United States European Command

United States European Command
United States European Command
Active 1 August 1952 – present
Country United States
Type Unified Combatant Command
Headquarters Patch Barracks, Stuttgart-Vaihingen
Nickname EUCOM
Commander Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN
Deputy Commander LTG John D. Gardner, USA
EUCOM Area of responsibility in orange

The United States European Command (EUCOM) is one of ten Unified Combatant Commands of the United States military, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Its area of focus covers 21,000,000 square miles (54,000,000 km2) and 51 countries and territories, including Europe, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, and Israel. The Commander of EUCOM simultaneously serves as the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) within NATO.

During the Cold War and the Kosovo War, EUCOM was the lead command for potential operations. During the Gulf War and Operation Northern Watch, EUCOM controlled the forces flying from Incirlik Air Base.


History and significant operations

EUCOM was established on 1 August 1952, to provide "unified command and authority" over all United States forces in Europe. For several years after World War II, the services had maintained separate commands in Europe that reported directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff: Commander-in-Chief, United States Air Forces in Europe; Commander-in-Chief, United States Naval Forces, Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean (later became United States Naval Forces, Europe); and Commander-in-Chief, United States European Command (later became United States Army, Europe).

America's rapid post-war demobilization, followed by the end of the occupation of Germany in 1949, led many to question the United States' commitment to defend Western Europe against the spread of communism. Western nations questioned how they could provide for the common defense and simultaneously questioned America's role in such defense. In 1948–1949, the Berlin Blockade motivated Western Europe and the United States to create a military alliance. In 1949, the allies established the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

EUCOM headquarters in the IG Farben Building, Frankfurt, 1952

In early 1951, NATO established Allied Command Europe and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). General Dwight D. Eisenhower was called from retirement to become the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The United States sent massive reinforcements to Europe designed to deter the Soviet Union. From 1950 to 1953 United States military personnel in Europe grew from 120,000 to over 400,000. United States Air Forces in Europe grew from three groups with 35,000 personnel to eleven wings with 136,000 personnel. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean doubled to more than 40 warships. United States Army, Europe, grew from one infantry division and three constabulary regiments to two corps with five divisions (including two mobilized National Guard divisions) and in November 1950 activated a new field army, Seventh Army, at Patch Barracks, Stuttgart. The Army activated the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg in 1952 and deployed it to Bad Töltz in November 1953 for unconventional warfare missions in the Soviet Bloc countries. To provide for national command within NATO and to help control this build-up of forces, Gen. Eisenhower proposed a separate command for all United States forces in Europe. Because the senior United States commander would continue as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Eisenhower recommended giving "a maximum of delegated authority" to a four-star deputy.

Eisenhower returned to the United States just as the new command was established. The first United States Commander-in-Chief Europe (USCINCEUR) was Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, former commander of Eighth Army and the Far East Command during the Korean War. His deputy was Gen. Thomas T. Handy, former Army deputy chief of staff under Gen. George C. Marshall and commander of United States Army, Europe.

Headquarters EUCOM initially shared the I.G. Farben Building in Frankfurt, Germany, with Headquarters United States Army, Europe. In 1954, the headquarters moved to Camp des Loges, a French Army base west of Paris and a short distance from SHAPE. There, EUCOM prepared plans for the defense of Western Europe within the NATO framework against the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. EUCOM used the Military Assistance Program to help its NATO partners build their military capabilities, including after 1955 the German Bundeswehr. In 1955, EUCOM established a Support Operations Command Europe, soon renamed Support Operations Task Force Europe (later became Special Operations, Europe) for special operations missions. EUCOM also assumed responsibility for command and control of American nuclear forces. In 1961, EUCOM began operating an airborne command post, Operation Silk Purse.

Civil war broke out in Lebanon in 1958 due to mounting religious and political conflicts (see "1958 Lebanon crisis"). EUCOM conducted a major contingency operation, Operation Blue Bat, in response to Lebanon's request to restore stability within the government.

In 1966, disagreements within NATO over involvement in the Vietnam War prompted France to demand the removal of all US and NATO headquarters and forces from French soil. The following year, SHAPE moved to Mons, Belgium, while Headquarters EUCOM moved to Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany. Headquarters Seventh Army moved to Heidelberg, where it merged with Headquarters United States Army, Europe. At Patch Barracks, EUCOM renovated the buildings, built a new operations center, modernized communications infrastructure and improved the airfield.

EUCOM continued to prepare for the defense of Europe and began a series of annual REFORGER (Return of Forces to Europe) exercises in 1967. Cold War crises continued, including the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. But, because of the Vietnam War, the number of the American forces in Europe slowly declined. Troop strength in Europe fell to 265,000 by 1970.

During the 1970s, force protection concerns in Europe increased as terrorist groups, such as the Red Army Faction and the Red Brigades, targeted American facilities and personnel with bombings, kidnapping and assassinations. Palestinian terrorist organizations conducted terror operations in Europe, such as the kidnapping of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

EUCOM and its components continued to provide military assistance throughout Europe, as well as humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, noncombatant evacuation, support to peacekeeping operations, and other non-traditional missions in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. For example, after the Congo became independent in 1960, EUCOM joined in several multinational operations in that country, including peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and noncombatant evacuation in 1960, 1964, 1967 and again in 1978. In the Middle East, EUCOM provided military assistance to Israel as well as noncombatant evacuation of American citizens in 1967, 1973, and 1982–1984.

In the late 1970s, the Soviet Union deployed SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles into Eastern Europe and in 1979 invaded Afghanistan. NATO responded with a "two-track" decision to step up negotiations while deploying American intermediate-range Pershing II missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles to counter Soviet actions.

US Army units in West Germany, 1987

During the 1980s, American forces in Europe increased to over 350,000. EUCOM established Fleet Marine Force Europe (later MARFOREUR) in 1980. The Unified Command Plan (UCP) was changed in 1983 to transfer responsibility for the Middle East from EUCOM to a new combatant command, U.S. Central Command, but EUCOM retained responsibility for Israel, Lebanon and Syria. At the same time, EUCOM was formally assigned responsibility for Africa south of the Sahara.

The Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, together with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Colin L. Powell, who served from 1989 to 1993, further strengthened the role of combatant commanders. Goldwater-Nichols also established United States Special Operations Command, which led to the activation of a new sub-unified command, Special Operations Command, Europe.

During the 1980s, negotiations continued with the Soviet Union on strategic and theater-level arms limitation. In 1987, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty called an end to the deployment of SS-20s, Pershing IIs and GLCMs. In 1990, NATO and Warsaw Pact members signed a treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe (CFE).

In 1989, the Soviet Union and other Soviet Bloc countries in Eastern Europe collapsed and the Cold War came to an end. The citizens of a reunified Berlin tore down the Berlin Wall on 6 November 1989. As a sign of reduced tensions, in 1991 EUCOM took its airborne command post off alert. Meanwhile in 1991, EUCOM and its components provided forces to CENTCOM for Operation Desert Storm.

EUCOM supports programs in former Soviet Bloc countries such as the Joint Contract Team Program, NATO Partnership for Peace and the National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. It was also active in operations in the Balkans, including Bosnia, Macedonia and Kosovo. During this time, EUCOM's assigned forces were lowered below 120,000.

Since 1990, EUCOM has hosted or co-hosted the annual International Military Chiefs of Chaplains Conference, the only one of its kind in the world, working to foster cooperation among religious leaders and understanding of religion as both a force for war and a force for peace.

Immediately after the terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, D.C., on 11 September 2001, NATO invoked Article V of the treaty and deployed NATO early warning aircraft to help monitor the skies over North America. EUCOM provided major forces for subsequent operations in Afghanistan and stepped up its efforts to protect United States interests in Europe and Africa. Subsequent terrorist attacks in the EUCOM theater in Casablanca, Madrid, London and Algiers prompted EUCOM to launch Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Sahara in 2007 while continuing to provide rotational forces to Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2003, the headquarters reorganized to establish the EUCOM Plans and Operations Center (EPOC). From 2006 to 2008, EUCOM helped stand-up a new geographic unified combatant command, United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), which took over responsibility for Department of Defense activities in Africa on 1 October 2008.


1 August 1952: U.S. European Command headquarters is established in Frankfurt, Germany.
1953: Over 400,000 US troops stationed in Europe.
1954: U.S. European Command headquarters moves to Camp des Loges, France.
1967: U.S. European Command headquarters moves to Patch Barracks, Stuttgart, Germany.
1970: 265,000 US troops stationed in Europe.
1980: 350,000 US troops stationed in Europe.
1983: U.S. Central Command is established and takes over responsibility for DoD activities in the Middle East from EUCOM.
1999: US troops stationed in Europe fall below 120,000.
7 December 2006: Army General Bantz J. Craddock becomes EUCOM's 14th Commander.
1 October 2008: U.S. Africa Command is established and takes over responsibility for DoD activities in Africa from EUCOM.
30 June 2009: Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis becomes EUCOM's 15th Commander and the first Navy Admiral to lead the HQ.


The following list details all operations in which EUCOM has been involved since its inception.[1]

  • Lebanon Crisis 1958 – USEUCOM transported 2,000 troops and more than 4.5 million tons of equipment to Lebanon.
  • Congo Crisis 1960 – USEUCOM transported UN troops and cargo to the Congo.
  • Cyprus Crisis 1964 – USEUCOM positioned ships near the island to conduct evacuation of non military personnel and deterrent operations if needed.
  • Congo Crisis 1964 – USEUCOM transported Belgian paratroopers in an rescue operation in the Congo.
  • Cyprus Crisis 1965 – Airlifted UN peacekeepers and equipment to Cyprus.
  • Congo Crisis 1967 – Provided airlift support for supplies, Congolese troops, and refugees.
  • Jordan Hostage Crisis 1970
  • Operation Nickel Grass 1973 – Support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War.
  • Operation Night Reach 1973 – Transported UN peacekeepers to Middle East at end of Yom Kippur War.
  • Cyprus Crisis 1974
  • Operation Nimrod Spar 1974/1975 – Cleared the Suez Canal.
  • Airlift 1978 – Airlifted multinational forces to Zaire to counter invasion by Angola.
  • Iranian Hostage Crisis 1981 – Release of 52 hostages held for 444 days.
  • Hostage Crisis 1982 – Italy – Release of Brigadier General James L. Dozier.
  • Operation Arid Farmer 1983 – Supported in the Crisis in Chad.
  • Beirut Bombing 1983 – USEUCOM coordinated evacuation and treatment of wounded Marines and identified and returned to CONUS the remains of 241 Marines killed.
  • Beirut Air Bridge 1984–1998 – Provided administrative and logistical support the US Embassy in Beirut.
  • Operation Eldorado Canyon 1986 – USAF and USN air strikes on Libya in retaliation for terrorist bombing of La Belle Disco in West Berlin.
  • Operation Steel Box/Golden Python 1990 – Supported withdrawal of chemical munitions from Germany and coordination of delivery/transport to Johnson Atoll.
  • Hostage Situation 1990–1992 – Hostage release support for Americans kidnapped and held in the Middle East.
  • Desert Storm and Proven Force 1991 – War to remove Iraq from Kuwait.
  • Provide Comfort II 1991 – Kurdish security zone in northern Iraq.
  • Operation Restore Hope 1992–1994 – Assisted in US Somalian security efforts.
  • Operation Deny Flight 1993–1995 – Support to UN/NATO enforcement of no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • Operation Sharp Guard 1993–1996
  • Operation Able Sentry/Sabre 1993–1999 – Task force attached to UN Preventive Deployment Force in Macedonia to monitor border activity.
  • Operation Vigilant Warrior 1994 – Response to Iraqi buildup along Kuwait border.
  • Operation United Shield 1995 – Support of US withdrawal from Somalia.
  • Operation Quick Lift 1995 – Support of NATO Rapid Reaction Force and Croatia forces deployment to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • Operation Nomad Vigil 1995 – deployment to Albania in support of Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
  • Operation Deliberate Force 1995 – NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serb military forces.
  • Operation Desert Strike 1996 – Missile Strikes on Iraq.
  • Operation Northern Watch 1997–present – Enforcement of No Fly Zone over northern Iraq.
  • Operation Assured Lift 1997 – In support of Liberian cease-fire monitoring.
  • Operation High Flight 1997 – Search and Rescue effort at Windhoek, Namibia.
  • Operations Phoenix Scorpion I & II 1997–1998 – support to UN weapons inspectors in Iraq.
  • Operation Auburn Endeavor 1998 – relocation of uranium fuel from Tbilisi, Georgia.
  • Operation Determined Falcon 1998 – Show of Force over Albania near Kosovo.
  • Operation Calm Support 1998–1999 – Support to KDOM mission to Kosovo.
  • Operation Resolute Response 1998 – Support to US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • Operation Flexible Anvil/Sky Anvil 1998 – Planning for Balkan/Kosovo operations.
  • Operation Eagle Eye 1998–1999 – Monitoring compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199 in Kosovo.
  • Operation Desert Fox 1998 – Air Strikes on Iraq.
  • Operation Allied Forces JTF Noble Anvil 1999 – Air war over Serbia to withdraw forces from Kosovo.
  • Operation Essential Harvest 2001 – Successful NATO program to disarm NLA in Macedonia.
  • Operation Enduring Freedom 2001–present – USEUCOM theater planning and execution of the Global War on Terrorism.
  • Operation Avid Recovery 2002 – Explosive Ordance Disposal support to Nigeria.


The main service component commands of EUCOM are the U.S. Seventh Army, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Third Air Force.

The Seventh Army is based in Germany. It controls one corps, parenting four combat and one aviation brigade. Previously it had two divisions, although for almost all of the Cold War it controlled two corps of two divisions each.

The Sixth Fleet provides ships to NATO Joint Force Command Naples' Operation Active Endeavour, deterring threats to shipping in the Straits of Gibraltar and the remainder of the Mediterranean. Joint Task Force Aztec Silence, a special operations force established under the command of Commander, Sixth Fleet, has been involved in fighting Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara. It also has a growing role around the shores of West and East Africa, under the direction of United States Africa Command. It previously had a significant Mediterranean presence function against the Soviet Navy's Fifth Squadron (Mediterranean Squadron), and for most of the Cold War was the most powerful maritime striking force along NATO's southern flank.

The HQ Air Command Europe, the Wing-support command, and the Third Air Force, USAFE's Warfighting Headquarters, both based at Ramstein Air Base in Germany form U.S. Air Forces Europe (USAFE). They are now much reduced from their high Cold War strength and provide a pool of airpower closer to many trouble spots than aircraft flying from the United States.

A subordinate unified command of EUCOM is SOCEUR (Special Operations Command Europe), headquartered at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany. The commander of SOCEUR is Major General Michael S. Repass. Special forces units within the AOR include the 352nd Special Operations Group of the USAF, based at RAF Mildenhall in the UK, a U.S. Navy SEALs unit, and Naval Special Warfare Unit 2 and 1st BN, 10th Special Forces Group located in Germany.

EUCOM is also headquartered at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany. The Iceland Defense Force also formed part of EUCOM from 2002 to 2006, when it was transferred from Joint Forces Command in the October 2002 Unified Command Plan change.[2]

The Kaiserslautern Military Community is the largest U.S. community outside of the U.S., while the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the largest U.S. military hospital overseas, treating wounded Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Force structure

Service components

  • United States Army Europe (USAEUR) (formerly the Seventh Army) (Heidelberg, Germany):
    • V Corps (Fifth Corps) ("Victory Corps")
    • 173rd Airborne Brigade
    • 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment
    • Army Flight Operations Detachment
    • 1st Personnel Command
    • 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command (Grafenwöhr, Germany)
    • 7th Civil Support Command
    • 21st Theater Sustainment Command
    • 266th Finance Command
    • 7th Army Soldiers Chorus
    • 33rd Army Band

Subordinate unified commands

  • United States Special Operations Command, Europe (Stuttgart, Germany)

Standing joint task forces

  • Joint Task Force East

Additional supporting units

Commanders-in-chief / commanders

Previously, this position held the title "Commander-in-Chief (CINC), United States European Command". However, following an order dated 24 October 2002 by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, all CINCs in the United States military were retitled "Commanders" and the use of "CINC" as an acronym was forbidden.[3]

Name Photo Branch Term began Term ended
1. General Matthew Ridgway Matthew Ridgway.jpg U.S. Army 30 May 1952 11 July 1953
2. General Alfred Gruenther GenGruenther NATO.jpg U.S. Army 1 July 1953 20 November 1956
3. General Lauris Norstad Lauris Norstad NATO photo.jpg U.S. Air Force 20 November 1956 1 January 1963
4. General Lyman Lemnitzer Lyman L. Lemnitzer.jpg U.S. Army 1 January 1963 1 July 1969
5. General Andrew Goodpaster Andrew Goodpaster NATO photo.jpg U.S. Army 1 July 1969 15 December 1974
6. General Alexander M. Haig, Jr. Alexander Haig DF-ST-84-00129.jpg U.S. Army 15 December 1974 1 July 1979
7. General Bernard W. Rogers Bernard W. Rogers.jpg U.S. Army 1 July 1979 26 June 1987
8. General John Galvin John Galvin, official military photo, 1991.JPEG U.S. Army 26 June 1987 23 June 1992
9. General John Shalikashvili John Shalikashvili.jpg U.S. Army 23 June 1992 22 October 1993
10. General George Joulwan George Joulwan, official military photo, 1991.JPEG U.S. Army 22 October 1993 11 July 1997
11. General Wesley Clark General Wesley Clark official photograph, edited.jpg U.S. Army 11 July 1997 3 May 2000
12. General Joseph Ralston Joseph Ralston, official military photo.jpg U.S. Air Force 3 May 2000 17 January 2003
13. General James L. Jones James L. Jones 2.jpg U.S. Marine Corps 17 January 2003 7 December 2006
14. General Bantz J. Craddock Bantz J. Craddock EUCOM.jpg U.S. Army 7 December 2006 30 June 2009
15. Admiral James G. Stavridis Stavridis EUCOM.jpg U.S. Navy 30 June 2009 Incumbent

See also


  1. ^ Global Security.org
  2. ^ Headquarters United States European Command
  3. ^ "'CINC' Is Sunk". American Forces Press Service. U.S. Department of Defense. October 25, 2002. http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=42568. Retrieved 2011-11-04. "The term 'CINC' is sunk. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put out a memo Oct. 24 to DoD leaders saying there is only one commander in chief in America — the president." 


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