WASHINGTON — A senior Air Force general is being nominated to take over as commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Europe.
Gen. Philip M. Breedlove is the top Air Force commander in Europe. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who announced the nomination Thursday, says Breedlove is particularly well qualified.
If confirmed, Breedlove would be the first Air Force general to hold the top NATO job since Joseph Ralston served in the post from 2000-2003.
Breedlove would succeed Navy Adm. James Stavridis, who has held the job since 2009.
President Barack Obama chose Breedlove after his first choice for the job, Marine Gen. John Allen, announced he would retire after 19 months commanding allied forces in Afghanistan because of his wife's health issues.
Allen had said his decision wasn't influenced by a Pentagon investigation into email messages he exchanged with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, who unwittingly set off a scandal last year that led to the resignation of Gen. David Petraeus as CIA director.