The NATO military alliance announced Tuesday that it has appointed U.S. Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis as its top military commander.
Adm. Stavridis, who was a senior adviser to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is currently the chief of US Southern Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in Latin America.
With the confirmation of his appointment on Tuesday, Adm Stavridis becomes the first naval officer to hold the top NATO military post.
He replaces U.S. General John Craddock as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), and like his predecessor, Adm Stavridis will now also serve as commander of U.S. forces in Europe.
The NATO Defense Planning Committee’s announcement appointing Adm Stavridis as the alliance’s supreme commander comes after President Barack Obama approved his nomination in March to become NATO chief and head of U.S. European Command.
Admiral Stavridis, a Greek-American, was born in West Palm Beach Florida, on February 15, 1955. He is married to Laura Hall, author of Navy Spouses Guide and they have two daughters, Christina and Julia.
According to the Greek News, Stavridis was in Greece in the early 60s when his father, US Marine Corps Colonel George Stavridis served in the US embassy in Athens as naval attaché.
He states proud of his Greek descent and in his many lectures and books he published he often quotes Greek bravery and military tactics.
His paternal grandparents were immigrants from Greece. His grandfather immigrated to the United States in the 1920s after being forced to leave Asia Minor and opened up a restaurant in Pennsylvania.
Admiral Jim Stavridis is a 1976 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a native of Florida. His initial sea tour was as the Antisubmarine Warfare Officer aboard USS Hewitt (DD-966). He was then selected for the Carrier Readiness Improvement Program, and served as Propulsion and Electrical Officer in USS Forrestal (CV-59). Subsequent sea tours included service as Operations Officer in USS Valley Forge (CG-50) during Operation Ernest Will and Executive Officer in USS Antietam (CG -54) during Operation Desert Shield.
He commanded USS Barry (DDG-52) from 1993 through 1995, completing deployments to Haiti, Bosnia, and the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Vigilant Warrior. Barry won the Battenberg Cup, USS Arizona Memorial Trophy, Ney Award, Golden Anchor, and Battle “E” under his command.
Adm. Stavridis assumed command of Destroyer Squadron Twenty-One in March 1998 and deployed to the Arabian Gulf as Sea Combat Commander with Abraham Lincoln Battle Group. He received the Navy League’s John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership for his tour as Commander, Destroyer Squadron Twenty-One.
Ashore, he served in the Navy’s Strategic Concepts Group (N-513) as a strategic planner, on the CNO’s Executive Panel Staff (N-00K) as a long range planner, as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, as Chief of the Policy Branch on the Joint Staff (J-5), and as Executive Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy. His first Flag assignment was as Deputy Director for Long Range Planning (N-81). Following September 11, 2001, he became Director, Navy Operations Group (Deep Blue) at the start of the Global War on Terrorism.
He commanded Enterprise Carrier Strike Group from August 2002 to May 2004, deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Arabian Gulf.
Adm. Stavridis earned a Ph.D. and MALD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in international relations in 1984, where he won the Gullion Prize as outstanding student in 1983. He is a 1992 distinguished graduate of the National War College.
His decorations and awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (5), Meritorious Service Medal (3), Navy Commendation Medal (4), Navy Achievement Medal, Adm. Arleigh Burke Award, Newport Navy League Award, and various campaign and unit decorations. He is author or co-author of current editions of Division Officer’s Guide, Watch Officers Guide, and Command At Sea.