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(LEAD) Gen. Scaparrotti tapped as NATO's top commander

All News 03:47 March 12, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES in paras 4-6 with Carter's statement)

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti has been named as NATO's top military commander, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Friday.

President Barack Obama nominated Scaparrotti to replace Gen. Philip Breedlove as NATO's supreme allied commander Europe, and NATO has also agreed to the appointment, Carter said in a statement.

In addition to the NATO position, Scaparrotti will be assigned as commander of U.S. European Command, he said.

"General Scaparrotti's proven leadership over the course of several difficult assignments will serve him well in this critical command," Carter said in a separate statement.

As USFK commander, Scaparrotti "demonstrated his excellence as a soldier-statesman, skills he will need as he works closely with our most trusted allies and partners in Europe," Carter said.

"General Scaparrotti is one of the U.S. military's most accomplished officers and combat leaders, and it is my hope that the Senate will act quickly on his nomination," he said.

Scaparrotti has led USFK since August 2013.

He is the one who brought up the need for a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense unit in South Korea for the first time in June, 2014, to better defend against threats from the North.

The U.S. desire to put a THAAD battery in the South put Seoul in a dilemma as China has expressed strong opposition, saying the system can be used against it. Washington has repeatedly stressed that the system is purely defensive and aimed only at deterring North Korean threats.

Ending the dilemma was North Korea's nuclear and missile tests in January and February. Immediately after the North's Feb. 7 long-range rocket launch, South Korea and the U.S. decided to launch official talks about THAAD deployment.


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