HEIDELBERG, Germany — A new deputy commander joined NATO’s Allied Land Component Command this week.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John D. Gardner was named deputy at a ceremony Wednesday at the Heidelberg headquarters on Campbell barracks.

Gardner will be a “key facilitator for the day-to-day operations of the headquarters and activities leading NATO in the upcoming cooperative exercise, NATO transformation and support to approximately 200 soldiers and civilians from the Heidelberg headquarters who are preparing to deploy to the [International Security Assistance Force] mission in Afghanistan later this month,” according to a news release from NATO public affairs.

Gardner was a rifle platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division, served as a company commander in Germany and has also served tours in South Korea and Southwest Asia, the release said.

Gardner is second in command to German Lt. Gen. Karl Heinz Lather.

Just 1 carrier remains in CENTCOM theaterThe USS John C. Stennis has left the U.S. Central Command theater of operations, leaving only one aircraft carrier in the region, a Defense official said Friday.

The USS Nimitz remains in the area of operations. But it is slated to be replaced by the USS Enterprise, which is under way and is expected in the region by the end of the month, the official said.

Since the fall, the Navy has had two carriers in the region, a move that observers said was meant to send a message to the Iranian government, which is pursuing nuclear technology the United States and other western governments believe could be used for weapons.

Another aircraft carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, is expected to arrive in the CENTCOM theater of operations this fall.

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