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Lt. Gen. David McKiernan will succeed Gen. B.B. Bell as commander of U.S. Army Europe next month, an Army spokesman said Tuesday.

The announcement follows word that Bell will formally succeed Gen. Leon J. LaPorte as commander on Feb. 1, according to U.S. Forces Korea officials. LaPorte is retiring after nearly 38 years in the Army.

“We are planning a change-of-command ceremony for the middle of December,” said Col. Roger King, USAREUR spokesman. For security reasons, USAREUR is not prepared to disclose the day, time and location of the ceremony, King said.

In his three years at the helm, Bell oversaw the deployment of tens of thousands of USAREUR soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq. He also has played a key role in shaping the Army’s plan to reduce and realign its forces in Europe.

McKiernan has been nominated for a fourth star. For the first few months of Operation Iraqi Freedom, McKiernan was head of all allied land forces in Iraq as commander of the Coalition Forces Land Component Command. During that time, he also was commander of the 3rd U.S. Army.

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