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WASHINGTON — Army Gen. Curtis "Mike" Scaparrotti will be announced later today as the next head of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, according to a defense official speaking on background.

Scaparrotti, currently the top US general in Korea, will succeed Gen. Philip Breedlove in the role.

In a statement, Defense Secretary Ash Carter praised Scaparrotti’s “proven leadership” during past assignments, including his time commanding the ISAF Joint Command in Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012.

“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,” Carter said.

Breedlove also chimed in with a statement, reading in part that he “cannot think of a more qualified leader to take these commands forward” than Scaparrotti.

The switch happens at a time of adjustment for the US in Europe and potentially large changes at NATO, as the allied nations continue to adjust to the realities of a resurgent Russia.

The good news for Scaparotti — he takes over from Breedlove when the Pentagon had decided to increase its spending in Europe, primarily with $3.4 billion in fiscal 2017 under the aegis of the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).

The biggest chunk of funding — $2 billion — is for putting a “heel-to-toe” armored brigade combat team (ABCT) in theater 24/7 on a rotational basis on top of the Stryker brigade and infantry brigade already in Europe. The funding will also cover more aviation in theater.

Scaparrotti will be leaving the Korean peninsula at a delicate time, with the North Korean regime having grow increasingly aggressive over the last year.

Email: amehta@defensenews.com

Twitter: @AaronMehta

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