USAFE Commander to be Three-Star Position

Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced last week that the command billet for US Air Forces in Europe will be for a three-star general in the future and no longer a four-star post. The same applies for the heads of the Army and Navy components of US European Command, he said. It is “no longer necessary to retain four-star service component headquarters for [EUCOM], each of which is too large and too senior given the number of troops they lead and the military operations they oversee,” Gates told reporters during a Pentagon briefing discussing Defense Department-wide changes to shed excess overhead. Accordingly, he said, “These commands will be reduced to the three-star level, with concurrent streamlining in the headquarters and personnel staff.” Overall, Gates said he intends to eliminate or downgrade more than 80 general- or flag-officer billets across DOD. (Gates-Mullen transcript)