Bell to take U.S. Forces Korea reins from LaPorte
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon has selected a replacement for Gen. Leon J. LaPorte as head of U.S. Forces Korea.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced Monday that President Bush had nominated Gen. Burwell B. Bell III to assume command of USFK.
LaPorte has been in charge of USFK, the Combined Forces Command and the United Nations Command since May 2002. He has extended his tour twice, most recently in November.
A 36-year Army veteran, Bell has been in command of U.S. Army Europe since December 2002 and of NATO’s Allied Land Component since March 2004. He has also served with a tank battalion in South Korea.
The news comes just over a week after a USAREUR spokesman denied a report in South Korea’s most prominent newspaper that Bell would take the helm at USFK.
“I have no idea where they would have gotten something like that,” spokesman Joe Garvey said at the time.
Bell received his commission from the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1969 and his first command was as a platoon leader in Germany with the 3rd Reconnaissance Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, his official biography says.
From June 1979 to 1980, he was an S-3 with the 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor, 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.
During Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Bell was an executive officer to Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf.
He made brigadier general in July 1995 and got his fourth star in December 2002.
Bell has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Commendation Medal, the Ranger Tab and the Army Staff Identification badge.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and his master’s in systems management from the University of Southern California.
He also attended the National War College, the United States Army Command and General Staff College and Armor Officer basic and advanced courses.