President Obama on Oct. 10 nominated Marine Corps Gen. John Allen to be the next NATO supreme allied commander for Europe and also head US European Command. Allen has led US and NATO forces in Afghanistan since July 2011. If the Senate confirms Allen for the new assignment, he’ll take the leadership reins in Europe in spring 2013, according to the President’s statement. Allen would replace Navy Adm. James Stavridis, who’s led US and NATO forces in Europe since summer 2009. “Under General Allen’s command, we have made important progress towards our core goal of defeating al Qaeda and ensuring they can never return to a sovereign Afghanistan,” said the President. He credited Stavridis with playing “a critical role in helping to make NATO a stronger alliance.” Obama also said he’s tapped Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford to take over for Allen in Afghanistan. Dunford is currently the Marine Corps’ assistant commandant. If he’s confirmed, Dunford “will lead our forces through key milestones in our effort that will allow us to bring the war to a close responsibly as Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its security,” stated Obama. (See also Panetta-Rasmussen-Stavridis transcript and Dempsey statement.)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.