Historical First: German Officer Now In Command Of US Forces


Since the inception of U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) after World War II a foreign officer has never served as chief of staff of the three-star command.

That has all changed.

Laubenthal’s role is promised to be mostly symbolic his predecessor,  U.S. Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr. stated, because U.S. law precludes a foreign officer from seeing certain classified information that American officers that hold same position would be able to access.

Well, we all know how this President loves laws. Who knows what will happen at this point.

As the U.S. and NATO allies draw down from Afghanistan, military leaders have emphasized the need to continue to work together to maintain the interoperability the various forces have gained over more than a decade of war.

“As we all know, actions speak louder than words,” Campbell said, “and this innovation carries a very strong message regarding our seriousness about a multinational team.”

One U.S. official said it’s estimated that Laubenthal will be able to carry out about 90 percent of the tasks typically performed by a USAREUR chief of staff, who is directly responsible for organizing, directing and supporting roughly 30 senior leaders who make up the command’s staff.

While Laubenthal’s assignment is a first for the German military and USAREUR, Campbell played down its novelty.

The U.S. has been at war alongside Germany and other NATO and partner nations for 13 years, he said, “so having a multinational general on our staff is not really something new, because they’ve seen it in theater, they’ve seen it in combat.

“In fact, I had a Canadian deputy commanding general at III Corps and Fort Hood,” Campbell said. “And we have other multinational officers in service in the United States and in U.S. Army Pacific.”

To those who might question the move, Campbell said: “I would step back and take a look at what we’ve been doing in combat for the last 13 years. We don’t fight it alone, we don’t go alone.”

American officials provided a fact sheet addressing some concerns about a foreign officer in such a high-level position in the U.S. Army, among them:

  • Laubenthal won’t have disciplinary authority over U.S. personnel;
  • He will not be able to represent the command outside of the command on his own;
  • He won’t command U.S. forces;
  • He won’t have access to U.S. law-enforcement information, diplomatic communications, information related to U.S. theater security objectives and a range of other information; and
  • He will have access to classified information that has been cleared for disclosure.

“What we saw today is really a kickoff,” German Lt. Gen. Jörg Vollmer said after a ceremony at Clay Kaserne welcoming Laubenthal.

Vollmer, the second in command of the German military, said that the Germans are open to assigning an American officer to a similar position within the German army.

Campbell said he first approached the German army’s chief of staff about putting a German general on the USAREUR staff in January 2013, soon after he took command and well before revelations of U.S. spying on Germans came to light. Campbell said he wants to “continue to look for ways that we can grow from this position and use it to leap to other positions at junior grades.”

Laubenthal, who most recently served as a German tank brigade commander and chief of staff for NATO’s Regional Command North in Afghanistan, said he’s a “true believer in the idea of organizing and training” as you would deploy in a military campaign.

“It’s really, really important to work with other nations together as close as you can and even before an operation starts,” he said.

Source: stripes.com

Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal, most recently the commander of Germany’s 12th Panzer Brigade in Amberg, and chief of staff of Regional Command North, International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan, will be stationed at USAREUR headquarters, Wiesbaden, Germany. He could report to duty as early as Monday.

Laubenthal also has served as military assistant to the deputy commander of operations and assistant chief of staff of operations for NATO forces in Kosovo.

As the major staff assistant to USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, Laubenthal will synchronize the command’s staff activities much as American predecessors have in the past.

“This is a bold and major step forward in USAREUR’s commitment to operating in a multinational environment with our German allies,” said Campbell.

“U. S. and German senior military leaders have been serving together in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan for years. Sustaining the shared capability from this experience will benefit both the U. S. and German armies,” said Campbell who has headed the Army’s largest and oldest overseas command since 2012.

Laubenthal’ s assignment comes at a time of strained relations between the U.S. and Germany as a result of disclosures over the past year that the National Security Agency, and more recently the Central Intelligence Agency, had been conducting information gathering operations against German citizens, to include Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Army sources in Europe said the first-ever assignment of a German general to the USAREUR staff is unrelated to the political furor over the spying revelations, but does reflect the increased importance of multinational operations in NATO.

Officials said the addition of a German general officer to the USAREUR staff has been planned for several months, and is part of an American effort to give a more multi-national flavor to its major overseas commands.

Source: armytimes.com
Photo: armytimes.com

Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal german officer



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