A German Army brigadier general who served with NATO forces in Afghanistan has been named to be the chief of staff of US Army Europe, the first non-American officer to hold the position with the Army’s oldest overseas command.
Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal, formerly the commander of Germany’s 12th Panzer Brigade in Amberg, and chief of staff of Regional Command North with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, will report to duty at USAREUR headquarters as early as Monday, according to Army Times.
As major staff assistant to USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, Laubenthal will coordinate the command staff’s activities.
“This is a bold and major step forward in USAREUR’s commitment to operating in a multinational environment with our German allies,” said Campbell.
“US and German senior military leaders have been serving together in NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan for years. Sustaining the shared capability from this experience will benefit both the U. S. and German armies,” added Campbell, head of US Army Europe since 2012.
Laubenthal is also a former military assistant to the the deputy commander of operations and assistant chief of staff of operations for NATO forces in Kosovo.
US and German relations have stiffened over the past year since revelations of mass spying on the European nation - including Chancellor Angela Merkel - by the National Security Agency. In addition, the Central Intelligence Agency was found to have operated intelligence gathering on German citizens, as RT has previously reported.
Nevertheless, Army Times sources said Laubenthal’s appointment is unrelated to the spying disclosures. Though it does, they said, show an increased cooperation in NATO’s multinational operations.
Officials said the appointment of a German officer to the USAREUR staff was in the works for several months, and is an effort to diversify America’s overseas commands.