A command pilot with 3,500 flying hours, Gen. Philip Breedlove currently serves as commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe. (Air Force)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has formally announced Gen. Philip Breedlove is the president’s nominee to become the next head of U.S. European Command.
“We need to get that position filled,” Hagel told reporters at a news conference. “Not only is he particularly well qualified, but the job that Adm. [James] Stavridis has done over there has been significant. He needs a little relief.”
Currently commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Breedlove is a command pilot with 3,500 flying hours, mostly in the F-16, according to his Air Force biography.
In a statement, Breedlove said he was “deeply honored” to be nominated to become the next commander of EUCOM.
“If confirmed, I’ll do everything in my power to live up to the example set by Adm. Jim Stavridis and the other great officers who have led the men and women of this command so well throughout its remarkable history,” he said.
Marine Gen. John Allen was originally tapped to be the next commander of EUCOM, but he opted to retire after getting caught up in the scandal that led to the downfall of retired Gen. David Petraeus. Allen was cleared of any wrongdoing.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey offered his “full support” for Breedlove’s nomination.
“He is an extraordinary leader with the moral character to match and he is worthy of the confidence he has already earned among our allies in Europe,” Dempsey said.
Breedlove has had several assignments in Europe since he was commissioned in 1977 through Georgia Tech’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
Early in his career, he served in Germany. Later, he served as the commander of the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base Italy; the vice commander of 16th Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and the commander of 3rd Air Force at Ramstein.
His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.
In September, Breedlove told Air Force Times that his top priorities as USAFE commander are “supporting the fight” and providing airmen the best training and equipment possible.
“Many nations in the world have great air forces. Some nations may even rival us in certain capabilities, but the caliber and dedication of our airmen are unmatched and always will be,” he said in a statement.
Breedlove, who has been married for more than 30 years, said he is also keenly aware of the importance of Air Force families to achieving mission success.
“I’m always striving to ensure the team and the infrastructure supporting our airmen’s families is the best in the world,” he said. “Our people deserve nothing less.”