Army merges Europe, Africa commands under a single 4-star headquarters
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 20, 2020
WASHINGTON — The Army has merged its component commands responsible for operations in Europe and Africa under one four-star general in a new organization that will be headquartered in Germany, the service announced Friday.
The Army’s new U.S. Army Europe and Africa, or USAREUR-AF, will combine the former U.S. Army Europe and former U.S. Army Africa into one organization, the service said. But soldiers will not move from their current locations under the reorganization, an Army spokeswoman said Friday.
USAREUR-AF will be headquartered in Wiesbaden, Germany, where U.S. Army Europe had been posted. Meanwhile, soldiers assigned to the former U.S. Army Africa will remain at Vicenza, Italy, where that command had been posted. The former U.S. Africa has been redesignated the Southern European Task Force-Africa, or SETAF-AF, under the command of USAREUR-AF.
Army officials, in a statement announcing the consolidation, said combining the two commands was meant to streamline operations between the interconnected operational theaters in Europe and Africa.
“This consolidation enhances global and regional readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy,” said Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy. “The new structure will increase command and control effectiveness, flexibility and the capability to conduct large-scale, joint and multi-domain operations.”
USAREUR-AF will be led by Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, who had commanded U.S. Army Europe as a three-star since 2018. The former U.S. Army Africa commander, Maj. Gen. Andy Rohling, will now serve as USAREUR-AF’s deputy commander for Africa and he will also command the SETAF-AF, the Army said.
The official announcement Friday came after Army officials acknowledged the planned changes in October but did not provide specific details. It also comes as the Army’s new V Corps arrived in Poland on Friday to open its forward headquarters in Poznan.
In Europe, the new U.S. Army Europe and Africa command will focus on high-level planning and operations, while V Corps takes responsibility of rotational units’ training operations and work with allies, largely to deter Russian aggression in the region.
For most of its existence, the Army component in Europe was led by a four-star general, but in 2011 the Pentagon reduced the billet to a three-star position. The move was part of an effort to find savings by cutting back the number of four-star generals, and USAREUR quickly complied.
The Pentagon was continuing with its long post-Cold War drawdown in Europe in 2011, and it was regularly returning units to homestation in the United States. Since then, however, the Army’s mission has expanded as the security environment in Europe has changed, notably in 2014 when Russia invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
The raising of the Army’s command signals its commitment to the European theater, officials said, noting they expect to increase the number of units training on the continent in the coming years.
The only other regional Army command headed by a four-star general is U.S. Army Pacific, which oversees Army operations in the Indo-Pacific region, which the Pentagon considers the most important strategic region as it looks to check growing Chinese influence and military power there.