Who will Obama nominate to be NATO’s new military commander?

Who will be the next SACEUR?

From John Vandiver, Stars and Stripes:  A review of the military’s current list of four-star commanders doesn’t reveal any obvious choices.

Gen. Carter Ham, the current head of Africa Command, could be viewed as a no brainer, given his experience heading up a combatant command and deep roots in Europe, but he is slated to retire this year. An official at AFRICOM has told Stars and Stripes that Ham is set on retiring and has no intention of sticking around, even for another high-profile spot.

Meanwhile, other current COCOM bosses seem unlikely. Gen. John Kelly of Southern Command, a traditional stepping stone to EUCOM, has been in command only for a couple of months. Gen. Lloyd Austin is tapped to replace a retiring Gen. John Mattis at Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. military interests in the most volatile part of the world — Middle East and Southeast Asia. Adm. Samuel Locklear, also relatively new to Pacific Command, seems unlikely given the Pentagon’s heightened focus on the region. . . .

Among the senior leaders with Europe ties, two officers are already in the region: Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Adm. Bruce Clingan, commander of U.S. Navy Forces Europe, Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples. Breedlove took up command at USAFE only in July; Clingan took over in Naples a year ago.

Meanwhile, as NATO forces draw down in Afghanistan, there will be renewed attention given to lessons learned from more than a decade of war. Senior U.S. military leaders in Europe have said training programs that build on those experiences and help allies bolster the standing of enlisted leaders in the respective militaries will be of particular importance. If that’s the case, someone like Gen. Robert Cone, commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, a prestigious post previously commanded by the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, could make sense. . . .

Last year, before Allen was nominated for EUCOM, retired Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute’s name was mentioned in media reports as a possible candidate. Lute has served as an unofficial “war czar,” coordinating policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and is well regarded inside the Obama administration, according to a Washington Post report.

From Eli Lake, Daily Beast:  the shortlist for generals and admirals to take over NATO forces centers around four names so far. These include Adm. William Gortney, the commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command; Vice Adm. Robert Harward, the current deputy commander of Central Command; Gen. Robert W. Cone, the commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; and the commandant of the Marine Corps, James Amos. . . .

Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., says that if Allen withdraws his name, he thinks Amos would be a good fit for the top slot at NATO. “I am a big fan of General Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, now at the two-and-a-half-year mark in that job,” he says. “It’s a bit early to leave, but he’d be excellent at it and keep it in the Marine Corps family.” Allen is a Marine Corps general.  (photo: SHAPE)

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