Warrior-scholar Cavoli takes reins at USAREUR
WIESBADEN, Germany — The new commander of U.S. Army Europe is eyeing readiness and interoperability with allied forces as his major priorities as he settles back in Germany, where he was born to a U.S. Army family decades ago.
“Readiness will be our watchword, it will be our mission, it will be our life, for it is in readiness that we find strength, and therefore in readiness that we find peace,” Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli said during an assumption-of-command ceremony at Clay Kaserne on Thursday.
It’s a position for which Cavoli, who arrived just weeks ago from his former post as commander of the Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division, would seem to be well-suited. Born in Wuerzburg, he speaks three European languages — Russian, Italian and Spanish — and has served as a foreign area officer with a focus on Eurasia. He’s also been a fellow at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
“Chris is special — a true warrior-scholar,” said Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, U.S. European Command chief and Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. “He brings a unique set of skills and experience to this theater.”
Cavoli takes over as the United States is building up forces on the Continent in response to an increasingly assertive Russia. Augmenting its two permanent combat brigades, USAREUR has in recent years added a rotational aviation brigade and a rotational heavy brigade.
Getting the forces of NATO’s 29 members to operate seamlessly together has been an alliance goal since its foundation in 1949. Analysts say it has been achieved to a significant degree only over the past decade, after years of joint combat operations in Afghanistan.
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges — Cavoli’s predecessor, who retired last month — consistently emphasized the need to use NATO’s combined strength to shore up the alliance’s eastern flank against a possible Russian threat. Work is now underway to expand a number of bases in the region. It’s a policy Cavoli intends to continue, he said.
“I owe a great debt of gratitude to my predecessor, whose brilliant leadership is something that we will depend on and build on,” he said. “(NATO is) the most successful, strongest military alliance in the history of mankind. I will do our part to keep things so.”
Cavoli’s first week in charge in Wiesbaden coincides with a USAREUR commanders’ conference, where he will offer guidance to U.S. military leaders on the Continent and get updates on training exercises.
“I understand the importance of this position, I understand the gravity of these times, and I will not let you down,” he told Scaparrotti.