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US general, Russia expert, assumes NATO supreme command in Europe

U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command Commanding General Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli at Tower Barracks in Grafenwoehr, Germany, June 2, 2021. (U.S. Army photo by Gertrud Zach)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Army General Christopher Cavoli — who speaks Russian and has a master’s degree from Yale in Russian studies — has taken over as NATO’s new supreme allied commander in Europe (SACEUR) at a ceremony in Mons, Belgium.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in his ceremony speech on July 4 that Cavoli assumes command amid “the return of brutal conflict to Europe.”

He replaces retiring U.S. General Tod Wolters as the SACEUR commander.

Stoltenberg highlighted Cavoli’s role in overseeing the recent buildup of U.S. troop deployments to Europe in reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The general will be primarily responsible for the planning and implementation of military measures designed to defend the Western alliance and deter Russia.

Cavoli was born in Germany and has lived much of his life on U.S. military bases. He joined the U.S. Army in 1987 and has served in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Along with Russian, he also speaks French and Italian.

He will assume a role first taken by Dwight Eisenhower, who was appointed SACEUR in 1950 before becoming U.S. president in 1953.