Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti will replace Gen. Philip Breedlove for a role that is traditionally held by an American. The change occurs as NATO faces increased threats from Russia along its borders and in Syria.
NATO said Friday that Scaparrotti would succeed Breedlove as the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, or SACEUR, in the spring.
Scaparrotti, who currently oversees American armed forces in Korea, will take over the position at a critical time for NATO, when Russia is allegedly backing rebels in parts of Ukraine and engaging in air strikes in Syria in support of the embattled President Bashar al Assad.
An American traditionally serves as SACEUR, and also serves as the US European Command. After receiving approval by the US Congress, Scaparrotti will be handed the reins at a ceremony at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) outside Mons, Belgium.
Breedlove has served as SACEUR since May 13, 2013.
blc/rc (Reuters, AFP)