Katherine Canavan, the U.S. European Command civilian deputy to the commander and foreign policy advisor, works in a unique position formally created by Adm. James Stavridis, EUCOM commander.
Her new job as CD2 started in November, and Canavan was thrilled when the admiral asked her to fill the role, which was brought forth as part of the EUCOM 2020 transition transformation.
“My job has evolved, and things are moving along quite nicely,” she said. “I’m very excited about being able to provide input for the EUCOM government as a whole. It’s a much better way of doing business.”
Her job is to advise the commander and staff on foreign policy issues that affect the EUCOM operations and planning.
However, this is the first time EUCOM has had a civilian deputy, said Canavan, who began her duties in August 2008 as the foreign policy advisor.
Her position is a three-star equivalent, which allows her to assist the command with senior-leader engagement.
The experience she’s had during her 34 years in foreign service has been put to use here, and she likes the variety of issues EUCOM deals with.
“It’s really an extension of what I was doing as a diplomat. EUCOM has a role to support NATO and a commitment working with individual countries, which brings a huge variety to work every day, and that’s interesting.”
Canavan discussed what she felt EUCOM’s strategy, goals and interests are going to be like this year, as the EUCOM 2020 transition transformation progresses.
“The military and the interagency have to work together because one agency can’t do it anymore,” she said. “EUCOM’s responsibility is no longer just focusing on military threats in the area of responsibility. We need to work together in advance to look at situations we might find ourselves in, and see where we will have to bring our areas of expertise together.”
On a day-to-day basis, she said EUCOM works closely with the local community because it’s important to develop and maintain the strong relationship EUCOM has built with the Germans. “We have regular contact with the German military senior leadership, and the issues we discuss aren’t dissimilar to ones I worked on as ambassador in Botswana or Lesotho.”
Canavan pointed out EUCOM has a U.S. Army in Europe Liaison Officer for Bavaria and an LNO here for Baden-Württemberg.
The LNOs help EUCOM work with officials and local government officials in the community on issues such as housing, schooling and transportation. On policy issues, however, EUCOM works through the embassy.
“We’ve been here a long time, and our presence here as a command is appreciated,” she said. “In fact, EUCOM is the only command with its headquarters in the AOR. That sends a strong signal to all of our allies that we’ve made [a] really significant commitment to NATO and the Atlantic Alliance by our presence here.”
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of career minister, Canavan recommends and helps formulate policy options, and provides counsel to leadership on all foreign policy issues affecting U.S. forces operating within EUCOM’s area of responsibility.
She has served in Washington, D.C., as the director of the Foreign Service Institute, ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho and managing director of Overseas Citizen Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Her tour in OCS followed three years in Windhoek, Namibia, as the deputy chief of mission.
Canavan was born in southern California, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is married to retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Canavan, who served for 35 years. She attributes much of her success to him.
“I owe a lot of my success to his support and mentoring of my career,” she said. “He’s a source of my ideas and when there’s something of the military I don’t get, I ask him to explain. He’s been extremely supportive and helpful.”
As an avid outdoors woman, she enjoys riding her bicycle, walking and skiing. She likes to read history, historical fiction and escapist fiction.
She considers herself an extrovert who gets her energy and motivation from people around her. “The commitment of military and civilian people who are working hard to make things better in the world inspires me,” she added. “I’m extremely impressed with the EUCOM staff and the people I work with. It’s fun to come to work every morning.”