Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove reportedly in line to be NATO supreme commander

  • Article by: THOM SHANKER
  • New York Times
  • February 21, 2013 - 8:02 PM


– Senior NATO officials said on Thursday that Gen. Philip Breedlove, the commander of U.S. Air Force units in Europe and Africa, is likely to be nominated by President Obama to be the alliance’s supreme military commander.

An opening to serve as NATO’s next military commander surfaced this week when the previous nominee, Gen. John Allen of the Marine Corps, announced that he was retiring.

Allen, who served until earlier this month as the commander in Afghanistan, said he was retiring to focus on family health issues. He had been caught up in the scandal that led to the resignation of David Petraeus as the director of the CIA. Last month, the Pentagon officially cleared Allen of any misconduct after an investigation into his exchange of e-mails with Jill Kelley, a Tampa , Fla., socialite.

Breedlove is the Air Force’s top officer for the European and Africa Commands. He was commissioned into the Air Force in 1977 from the ROTC program at George Tech. According to his official biography, he has commanded a fighter squadron, an operations group and three fighter wings.

Before his current command position, Breedlove also served as vice chief of staff of the Air Force.

Senior NATO officials described Breedlove as the leading candidate for the top alliance military post, speaking on the condition of anonymity because it has not yet been announced by Obama.

The disclosure on the likely personnel decision came as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta joined other defense ministers from the alliance for a two-day session. The future of the mission in Afghanistan was on the agenda for the defense ministers’ meeting, the first since Obama ordered U.S. forces in Afghanistan to be reduced by 34,000 troops within a year.

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