WIESBADEN, Germany ― Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the new commander of U.S. Army forces in Europe, stepped into his new role pointing to his long experience in dealing with the continent’s land forces as a key driver for the new assignment.

“I’ve had the benefit of a great deal of exposure to our allied armies and the way they operate, and how we can operate together,” he told reporters at his Jan. 18 assumption-of-command ceremony at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden’s Clay Kaserne in Germany. “I think those things will help me in this role.”

Fresh from commanding the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, Cavoli’s new posting comes with a significant deal of regional tension. For one, American forces in Europe are seen as a deterrent against Russian military adventurism, especially in Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

In addition, European nations are in the beginning stage of figuring out how to organize their defense in the context of the European Union, in addition to their trans-Atlantic NATO ties.

Cavoli’s résumé includes assignments at U.S. Army installations in Vicenza, Italy, and stops in Grafenwoehr and the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch-Patenkirchen, both in Germany. He also served a combat tour at NATO’s Regional Command West in Afghanistan alongside forces from Lithuania, Croatia, Italy and Spain.

His priority, Cavoli told reporters, is building the readiness of his troops “in conjunction with our allies so that we are all ready and all interoperable and compatible and able to work together and whatever it is that our nation has asked us to do for the alliance.”

Asked by a German reporter about ideas to “improve” relations with Russia, Cavoli steered clear of offering an opinion, pointing instead to his duty of executing U.S. and NATO policy rather than making it.

Speaking at Thursday’s ceremony, European Command chief Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti lauded Cavoli as a “warrior-scholar” whose political-military skills would benefit the Army in the midst of Europe’s security landscape.