Lt. Gen. Larry Spencer pinned on his fourth star and became the Air Force’s new vice chief of staff during a Pentagon ceremony, announced service officials. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presided over the July 27 event. Spencer, nominated in May for promotion to the rank of general for the vice chief post, had been the Joint Staff’s director of force structure, resources, and assessment since April 2010. An airman since February 1980, Spencer replaces Gen. Philip Breedlove as vice chief. The Senate in late May confirmed Breedlove, vice chief since January 2011, for his next assignment as commander of US Air Forces in Europe. Current USAFE boss Gen. Mark Welsh is the nominee to replace Schwartz as Chief of Staff, but there is presently a hold on his nomination.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.