US Army Europe and Africa consolidate as Cavoli gets fourth star
STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Army in Europe is once again led by a four-star general after the service decided to consolidate its Europe and Africa headquarters.
Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli assumed command of the newly formed U.S. Army Europe and Africa on Oct. 1, according to his official biography.
The Army made no formal announcement of the change, but Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an interview Thursday with Defense News that the service felt elevating USAREUR to a four-star command was necessary.
“[W]e advocated and pushed hard and got that done because, in his capacity as U.S. Army Europe commander, he is the joint force land component commander, and in that capacity, if war breaks out on the Continent, this is the officer leading all of those NATO elements under that umbrella,” Defense News quoted McCarthy as saying.
Before putting on his fourth star, Cavoli served as a lieutenant general leading USAREUR out of Wiesbaden, Germany.
It isn’t yet clear if the headquarters will remain in Wiesbaden or move to Vicenza, Italy, where the Army’s Africa command is based. The change comes as the Pentagon prepares plans to withdraw some 12,000 troops from Germany.
Requests for comment from the newly consolidated headquarters were not immediately answered.
For most of its existence, the Army component in Europe was a four-star command, 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 was regularly returning units to the U.S. 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.