Nearly two years ago, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced sweeping plans for fewer senior officers, including downsizing commands in Europe to three-star billets.
“It is also no longer necessary to retain four-star service component headquarters for the Army, Navy and Air Force in European Command, each of which is too large and too senior given the number of troops they lead and the military operations they oversee,” Gates said at the time.
The Army was quick to oblige, sending Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling in March 2011 to command U.S. Army Europe — the military’s largest component on the continent. Hertling, who retired last month, was the first three-star general, rather than four-star, to command USAREUR since the 1950s.
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