A German Army brigadier general who recently served with NATO forces in Afghanistan is assuming duties as the chief of staff of U. S. Army Europe, the first time a non-American officer has held that position.
Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal, most recently the commander of Germany’s 12th Panzer Brigade in Amberg, and chief of staff of Regional Command North, International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan, will be stationed at USAREUR headquarters, Wiesbaden, Germany. He could report to duty as early as Monday.
Laubenthal also has served as military assistant to the deputy commander of operations and assistant chief of staff of operations for NATO forces in Kosovo.
As the major staff assistant to USAREUR commander Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, Laubenthal will synchronize the command’s staff activities much as American predecessors have in the past.
“This is a bold and major step forward in USAREUR’s commitment to operating in a multinational environment with our German allies,” said Campbell.
“U. S. 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,” said Campbell who has headed the Army’s largest and oldest overseas command since 2012.
Laubenthal’ s assignment comes at a time of strained relations between the U.S. and Germany as a result of disclosures over the past year that the National Security Agency, and more recently the Central Intelligence Agency, had been conducting information gathering operations against German citizens, to include Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Army sources in Europe said the first-ever assignment of a German general to the USAREUR staff is unrelated to the political furor over the spying revelations, but does reflect the increased importance of multinational operations in NATO.
Officials said the addition of a German general officer to the USAREUR staff has been planned for several months, and is part of an American effort to give a more multi-national flavor to its major overseas commands.