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Philip Breedlove

42 - Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove
NATO Supreme Allied Commander
Over the last two decades, the US military’s focus may have shifted from Europe toward Asia and the Middle East, but America’s closest allies remain in Europe. As such, NATO remains the linchpin to American strategic interests worldwide. The supreme allied commander in Europe wears dual hats, one as NATO’s top military officer, the other as commander of US European Command, the top American officer in Europe. In May, Breedlove became the third airman SACEUR — the others were Gen. Lauris Norstad and Gen. Joe Ralston — at a time when America continues to draw down forces in Europe as war-weary allies look to the financially leaner future. A former commander, his top priority is enlisting member nations to remain in Afghanistan after 2014 to support the country and its military forces. Equally important, he will play a critical role in shaping NATO’s future strategy while working to retain lessons and building on those learned from the past dozen years of combat operations. Other future challenges include modernizing NATO’s cyber assets and ensuring future phases of Europe’s integrated missile defense program are implemented. While Europe may not be the focus of US operations, it is a breeding ground for top leaders: Mike Mullen (No. 60) was the Navy’s top officer in Europe before becoming CNO, then chairman; Mark Welsh (No. 32) became Air Force chief of staff from his service’s European command; and John Shalikashvili springboarded from SACEUR into the chairman’s office.

Afghanistan Policy Air Force