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New Army Europe top NCO looks to leverage experience at ‘critically important’ time

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U.S. Army Europe’s new top enlisted leader is bringing his special operations experience with him to Germany for a posting where integrating U.S. forces with allies is high on the Army’s agenda.

Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Abernethy, who assumed responsibility Thursday at USAREUR headquarters in Wiesbaden, served previously as command sergeant major for U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Helping partner militaries grow and work together “is critically important work, particularly as the environment around us becomes ever more complex and hyperconnected,” Abernethy said during a ceremony Thursday.

Abernethy has spent much of his career in special operations, but he said that there are commonalities that will make his transition to a conventional combatant command work.

“Everybody in the Army is mission-focused – there’s no doubt that this Army team here in Europe is mission-focused, so that’s absolute common ground,” he said, adding that his prior experience gave him a global perspective, allowing him to learn about the situation in Europe.

“I’ve seen some pretty good things going on with soldiers between special operations formations and other formations integrating quite well here in Europe, so I hope to bring that along a little as well.”

Abernethy takes over for Command Sgt. Maj. Sheryl Lyon, who was the first female senior enlisted soldier at a combatant command posting. Lyon recently took over as command sergeant major of U.S. Army Cyber Command at Fort Belvoir, Va.

Since Lyon’s departure in February, Command Sgt. Maj. Alberto Delgado, of the 21st Theater Support Command, has been USAREUR’s acting senior enlisted leader.

USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, who took over from Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges in December, praised Abernethy’s experience and motivation.

“He brings a new insight into how to do business and a new energy to do whatever we decide to do,” Cavoli said.

Abernethy’s first priority will be to get out to the command’s various outposts across Europe to “understand the people and the environment,” he said.

Abernethy’s three grown children have continued the family military tradition. One is a veteran, another an active-duty soldier and the third a member of the North Carolina Army National Guard. Abernethy’s wife, Angela, is an advocate for military spouse issues and has earned a public service award for her work.


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