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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, Air Force vice chief of staff who has served in multiple capacities in Europe, has been nominated to succeed Gen. Mark A. Welsh III as commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, the Pentagon has announced.

If confirmed by the Senate, Breedlove, an F-16 pilot, would follow Welsh as the top Air Force officer in Europe. Breedlove served multiple tours in Spain, Italy and Germany during and after the Cold War, most recently from 2008-2009 as commander, 3rd Air Force.

On taking over that command at Ramstein Air Base, where USAFE has its headquarters, he said: “Germany will always hold a special place in our hearts,” referring to his family’s return.

Welsh, who has led USAFE since December 2010, has been nominated to be the next Air Force chief of staff, replacing Gen. Norton Schwartz, who is retiring in August.

Breedlove, who was raised in Forest Park, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Tech in 1977, has master’s degrees in aeronuatical technology from Arizona State and national security studies from the National War College. He is a command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours, primarily in the F-16.

Breedlove served in Europe from 1983-1990, first posted to Torrejon Air Base, Spain, as a an F-16 aircraft commander and instructor pilot with the 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron. From 1985-1987, he was air liaison officer, 602nd Air Support Operations Group in Kitzingen, Germany, then was an F-16 pilot with the 526th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ramstein, where he also served briefly as Chief of Flight Safety, 316th Air Division. From 1988 to 1990, Breedlove was an F-16 flight commander, then assistant operations officer with 512th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ramstein, according to his Air Force biography.

After two tours in Korea and various postings in the U.S., Breedlove returned to Europe in 2004 as commander of the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base in Italy, then returned to Ramstein as vice commander, 16th Air Force from 2005-2006. The Pentagon also announced Friday that Maj. Gen. Noel T. Jones has been nominated as the USAFE vice commander. Jones, who would be in line for his third star, is currently the director, operational capability requirements, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements at Air Force headquarters.

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