U.S. Army Europe welcomes Bundeswehr officer as its first German chief of staff
August 28, 2014
WIESBADEN, Germany -- U.S. Army Europe welcomed the Bundeswehr's Brig. Gen. Markus Laubenthal as the storied unit's new chief of staff during a ceremony on Wiesbaden's Clay Kaserne Aug. 28.
"Today, as a command, we take a bold and major step forward in our commitment to operating in a multinational environment with our German allies," said USAREUR's commander, Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr.
"U.S. and German senior military leaders have been serving together in NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan for years," Campbell said, adding that Laubenthal brings his expertise as chief of staff of ISAF Regional Command North in Afghanistan to his new position in USAREUR's Headquarters.
"As we all know, actions speak louder than words, and this innovation carries a very strong message regarding our seriousness about a multinational team."
"It's really an important moment for both of our countries," said Laubenthal, while fielding questions from the media following the ceremony.
Having an opportunity to play a role in helping synchronize the activities of the USAREUR staff is just another step in joint operations, Laubenthal said, pointing to the importance of interoperability both during military operations and during the months before heading into combat.
"It's really important to work with other nations … to start well in advance of a deployment," Laubenthal said. "I've learned the benefits of multinational environments."
"Take a look at what we've been doing in combat for the last 13 years," said Campbell in answer to a question about why multinational operations are vital. "Having a multinational leader as part of our staff not only provides USAREUR with a traditional chief of staff to synchronize our operations, it brings the concept of 'train-as-you-fight' to our daily garrison operations.
"Nations don't have relationships, people do -- and now, more than ever, relationships are vital to our mission. We must continue to strengthen our ties with our host nations and allies. … We must remain committed to increasing transparency and accessibility," USAREUR's commander said.
Calling it a historical day, Campbell marked the occasion by placing USAREUR's patch on the German general's shoulder as a large group of U.S. and German military and civilian officials looked on at the parade field by the Keyes Building, USAREUR's Headquarters.
"We don't know what the next crisis will be, where it will happen or who will be affected, but we do know that the U.S. Army will not engage alone," Campbell said. "So if we are going to deploy together, we need to train, live and serve together. Our mission depends on it."
Lt. Gen. Jörg Vollmer, the Bundeswehr's deputy chief of staff and operations commander, who said he served with Laubenthal in Afghanistan, echoed Campbell's assessment that the appointment was a "historical day."
"I think this is an investment into the future," he added.
As USAREUR's chief of staff, Laubenthal is responsible for organizing, directing and supporting USAREUR's more than 800 military personnel. This entails supervising the staff to accomplish the training, readiness, supervision, management and synchronization of operations of the headquarters and all subordinate units. He also helps manage USAREUR's budget and the integration of NATO and other partners into USAREUR activities.
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