Union Tribune

July 20, 2002 

Top Marine slated to head NATO forces
Post usually filled by Army generals


By OTTO KREISHER 
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE 

WASHINGTON NATO yesterday accepted President Bush's
choice of the Marine Corps commandant, Gen. James L. Jones,
to be the next supreme commander of the trans-Atlantic
alliance.

Jones would be the first Marine, and the first officer from either
of the naval services, to hold a post that has been dominated by
Army generals for 51 years.

His selection reflects Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's drive
to change the U.S. military's traditional thinking and to help
NATO shift from a Cold War focus on land armies to lighter, more
mobile forces capable of rapid deployment away from Western
Europe.

Jones' move to the Brussels headquarters also would set off a
contest for the Corps' top job.

His selection comes almost a year before the term ends for
NATO's current commander, Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston.

If the Senate confirms Jones as Supreme Allied Commander
Europe, he will continue the tradition of U.S. leadership started
in 1951 by the first person to hold the job, Army Gen. Dwight D.
Eisenhower.

Fran Burwell, director of trans-Atlantic programs at the Atlantic
Council, said the Marines "have been the ones in the U.S. military
who have most accepted transformation," embracing new
technology and concepts, "particularly rapid deployment."

Robert Work, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and
Budgetary assessments, saw Jones' selection as possibly helping
NATO increase its mobility with improved expeditionary naval
forces.

"Having a Marine . . . might really assist in getting NATO and
American rapid-deployment capabilities more in sync," Work
said.

Work and Burwell said it also would be helpful that Jones speaks
French fluently, having grown up in France, and is considered
politically astute.

Sending Jones to Brussels nearly a year before his four-year
term ends will allow Rumsfeld to make an early selection of the
next Marine leader.

The list of candidates for commandant normally includes most
of the three-star lieutenant generals. The men holding the posts
that have supplied most of the recent commandants are Lt. Gen.
Earl Hailston, the Marine commander in the Pacific, and his
Atlantic counterpart, Lt. Gen. Raymond Ayres.

Other possible candidates are Gen. Carlton Fulford, a former
Pacific Marine commander who now is deputy commander of
the U.S. European Command; Lt. Gen. Michael Hagee,
commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp
Pendleton; Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregston, commander of the 3rd
Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa; Lt. Gen. Emil "Buck"
Bedard, deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations;
and Lt. Gen. William Nyland, head of aviation programs and a
nominee for assistant commandant.