U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters will be the next NATO supreme allied commander, Pentagon and NATO officials announced on Friday.
Wolters, who currently commands U.S. air forces in Europe and Africa and leads the region’s joint air command, will as NATO chief wear the customary second hat as leader of U.S. European Command, responsible for all American troops on the continent and in Israel. He is a combat pilot with a diverse resume including time in Washington at the Pentagon’s Air Force and Joint Staff headquarters, and as a liaison to Congress. He has flown the F-15, F-22, and A-10 among other aircraft, and fought in Desert Storm, the Iraq War, and Afghanistan, where he also was deputy commander of political-military affairs.
The White House originally had wanted Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to take command of NATO, Defense One has learned from multiple sources. Last summer, with many senior leadership positions due to rotate, Milley was considered for the role but instead asked Trump for a more plum assignment: chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With Gen. Joseph Dunford’s term due to expire this year, Milley’s request was considered to be a bit of an ultimatum, according to a former U.S. official. If the chairman’s job was not open for him, Milley preferred to retire. When it was clear he had a shot at the chairmanship, he pressed, and edged out the perceived front-runner, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. Trump announced Milley was his pick unexpectedly, and the search was back on for a NATO commander to replace outgoing Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti.
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