Lt. Gen. Mark P. Hertling formally assumed command of U.S. Army Europe during a ceremony at Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg March 25.
Hertling is the 36th commander in USAREUR’s nearly 70-year history, and the first three-star general appointed by the U.S. government since 1952 to lead U.S. Army forces in Europe.
During the ceremony, Adm. James Stavridis, commander of U.S. European Command, passed the USAREUR colors to Hertling, symbolically passing responsibility for, and authority over, the unit to its new commander.
After noting during his remarks that Hertling is a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, Stavridis used a quote by the Cardinals’ manager, Tony La Russa, to describe Hertling’s qualifications.
“He’s got special talent and he’s got special attitude. Guys who have that play in the big leagues.”
Hertling and his wife, Sue, return to Europe from Fort Monroe, Va., where he was the deputy commanding general for Initial Military Training at U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.
His history in USAREUR is long. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy, Hertling served as a second lieutenant with 64th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, in Schweinfurt in 1975. He has also served in Katterbach, Hanau, Grafenwöhr and Wiesbaden.
During his remarks, Hertling described how he and his wife feel about being back in Germany.
“My name is Hertling,” he said, “and I am a Soldier. It is a tremendous honor to serve in Europe, a place I consider my professional home, a place where Sue and I have so many fond personal memories.”
Through his assignment as commander of the Joint Multinational Training Command, from September 2004 to August 2005, followed by an assignment as the USAREUR chief of operations and training, Hertling has been involved in USAREUR’s unique role in building allied and partner nations’ capacity to operate together in coalitions with the U.S.
Hertling said that America’s traditional allies have evolved and become even stronger. He also finds the development of new relationships and alliances with other countries, some of which “used to be on the other side of a wall or a fence,” inspiring.
That inspiration will be put into action during Hertling’s tenure at USAREUR.
“We will continue to find ways to strengthen partnerships with old and new allies,” Hertling said, “especially as we recognize the ever evolving security environment faced by the United States, Europe and the world.”
Hertling experienced the development of partnerships during his most recent tour of duty in Europe. He served as the commanding general of 1st Armored Division from May 2007 to May 2009, which included his third deployment with the division to Iraq.
1st Armored Division’s headquarters returned from Iraq in November 2010, and is in the process of moving to Fort Bliss, Texas, as part of U.S. Army Europe’s ongoing transformation process that began in 2003.
Since 2003, USAREUR has reduced its size by one third, from 62,000 Soldiers to about 42,000 today. In addition, USAREUR has planned, and Installation Management Command-Europe has executed, the closure of nearly half of the 239 sites the Army in Europe had in 2003.
As some of the final actions from that 2003 plan begin to unfold, including the consolidation of its headquarters in Wiesbaden, USAREUR is better postured to respond to the wide range of challenges emerging in the 21st century.
Hertling said he monitored the planning of USAREUR’s transformation and participated in the early stages of executing the plan. He sees moving forward with that plan as one of his missions.
“We will continue with the transformation of our Army in Europe, while providing trained Soldiers and units for combatant commanders as they face an increasingly demanding operational environment,” Hertling said.
After listing the challenges — including transformation — USAREUR will face in the coming months, Hertling signaled his readiness to take them on.
“Given all this, there is no place on earth Sue and I would rather be.”