"The Acting Secretary of Defence [Patrick Shanahan] announced that the President has nominated US Air Force General Tod Wolters as the next Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander [of the] US European Command", the statement said on Friday.
Wolters will succeed current commander General Curtis Scaparrotti, who has served in the position since 2016. The NATO agreed with the intended appointment, the European Command added. Wolters’ nomination now heads to the US Senate for confirmation. Wolters is currently leading Allied Air Command and US Air Forces in Europe, headquartered at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Ramstein is a US airbase in Rhineland-Palatinate state in southwestern Germany. In April 2015, media reports revealed that the base was a center of the US drone program, which uses unmanned aerial vehicles for air strikes in the Middle East and Africa.
The US drone program has been reportedly run through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since 2002, enabling a degree of secrecy. Many supporters of transparency in the drone program have argued that the authority to carry out strikes should be transferred from the CIA to the Department of Defence.
Drone strikes are generally authorized to destroy high-value targets that are not subject to capture. According to estimates by human rights organizations, at least 2,500 civilians have been killed as a result of the US drone strikes.