The US army has inaugurated its new commander of its 40,000 troops in Europe at its new base in the German city of Wiesbaden. Lieutenant General Donald M. Campbell conveyed plans to reduce the force to 30,000.
Campbell stepped into the post prematurely in November when his predecessor quietly departed. The German news agency dpa said Lieutenant General Mark Hertling's mute departure fueled speculation that he had been opposed to planned troop cuts.
The army's force in Europe known by the acronym USAREUR is currently in the throws of moving from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt International Airport. The transfer is scheduled to be completed in 2015.
USAREUR is responsible for military cooperation with 51 nations across Europe, as far afield as Israel.
Commitment to Europe remains
Inaugurating Campbell, the commander of the US European Command, Admiral James Stavridis said Campbell's appointment and USAREUR's headquarters move to Wiesbaden symbolized the "US commitment to Europe" sought by President Barack Obama.
Stavridis said Campbell had three main tasks: continued assistance to forces in Afghanistan after 2014; continued alliance with European partner forces; and new ways to apply innovative techniques such as cyber-operations and missile defense.
Campbell said the challenge would be to build upon gains with NATO partners in an era of dwindling resources.
"We are in the process of deactivating two long-storied brigades, and we are reducing our garrison footprint across Europe. This transition makes us leaner, better organized, and more agile."
Campbell previously served at US bases in Europe, including Bad Kreuznach, Mainz and Heidelberg in Germany and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium.