WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis assumed the top post at the U.S. European Command Tuesday, becoming the first naval officer to hold the job, the Pentagon said.
Stavridis also will be NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, the Defense Department said in a news release. Stavridis succeeds retiring Army Gen. Bantz Craddock at the U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
Speaking during change-of-command ceremonies, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called Stavridis, former commander of U.S. Southern Command, a visionary leader who will carry forward the groundwork laid by Craddock.
"Jim Stavridis is a true sailor-scholar whose strategic vision and diplomatic expertise make him the leader we need at this command at such a critical junction in the history of the transatlantic alliance," Gates said.
Gates also praised Craddock for his accomplishments during the past three years leading the U.S. European Command and NATO.
"His tenure since taking command at Eucom and NATO has been one of steady professionalism and forward-thinking leadership during a time of great consequence for the United States and our allies and partners in Europe," Gates said.