Greek-American James Stavridis is the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces. He assumed duties as commander of European Command and as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe in early summer 2009. As LIFE.com reported Admiral Stavridis offered a telling comment about Libya last Tuesday before the US Senate Armed Services Committee. “I think a stalemate,” he said, “is not in anybody’s interest.”
If Muammar Gaddafi can’t win, because allied airpower will keep his forces bottled up where they are and the rebels can’t win, because they’re militarily incompetent the result is stalemate. This is what the allies are trying to prevent since such a situation cannot continue to exist for long because of the high costs of the operations. But let’s take a look at the Greek-American admiral who is considered a front-runner to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs by year’s end.
Stavridis is a 1976 distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a native of South Florida. A Surface Warfare officer, he commanded the Destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) from 1993-1995, completing UN/NATO deployments to Haiti and Bosnia, and a combat cruise to the Arabian Gulf. Barry won the Battenberg Cup as the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet under his command.
In 1998, he commanded Destroyer Squadron 21 and deployed to the Arabian Gulf, winning the Navy League’s John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational Leadership. From 2002-2004, he commanded Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, conducting combat operations in the Arabian Gulf in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. From 2006-2009, he commanded U.S. Southern Command in Miami, focused on Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ashore, he has served as a strategic and long range planner on the staffs of the chief of Naval Operations and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He has also served as the executive assistant to the secretary of the Navy and the senior military assistant to the secretary of Defense.
Stavridis earned a PhD and MALD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in International Relations in 1984, where he won the Gullion Prize as outstanding student. He is also a distinguished graduate of both the National and Naval War Colleges. He holds various decorations and awards, including two awards of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal and five awards of the Legion of Merit. He is author or co-author of several books on naval ship handling and leadership, including Command at Sea, Destroyer Captain, and Partnership for the Americas about Latin America.