- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Army general who has headed the U.S. military command responsible for the Guantanamo Bay detention center for suspected terrorists for the past two years won approval yesterday by NATO to be the next military commander of the 26-nation alliance.

Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, whose nomination must also be confirmed by the Senate, would replace Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who is retiring. Gen. Jones was the first Marine to hold the post, which has always been held by an American officer, beginning with Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1951.

NATO issued a statement saying its Defense Planning Committee approved Gen. Craddock’s nomination to succeed Gen. Jones. By tradition, the top NATO commander is an American and its top civilian leader is a European.

Gen. Craddock also would succeed Gen. Jones as commander of U.S. European Command, responsible for all U.S. military operations in Europe as well as Israel and most of Africa. European Command is based at Stuttgart, Germany.

Gen. Craddock, a graduate of West Virginia University and an armor officer by training, was the senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for two years before becoming commander of U.S. Southern Command in November 2004. That command is responsible for the detention center in Cuba, as well as U.S. military operations in and around Latin America and the Caribbean.

Gen. Craddock was an armor battalion commander during the 1991 Gulf War. He is a former commander of the 1st Infantry Division and is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.

Gen. Craddock’s successor as senior military assistant to Mr. Rumsfeld, Navy Vice Adm. James G. Stavritis, has been nominated to succeed him at Southern Command.

No date has been announced for Gen. Craddock to assume the NATO and European Command posts, but it is expected to come shortly after a summit meeting of NATO heads of government in Latvia in late November.

Gen. Jones, who began his military career in 1967 and is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, has been commander of NATO and the European Command since January 2003. Before that he was commandant of the Marine Corps.

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