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"Alliance Guy" For NATO Commander

Adm. James Stavridis will be nominated to lead NATO, a crucial post as the fight in Afghanistan ramps up.

He will bring one crucial skill as he works with the European nations that comprise the bulk of NATO membership. "He is an alliance guy," said one observer who knows the admiral well. Stavridis possesses the rare gift among senior military leaders of being able to speak to people he knows don't agree with him and give them a fair and full hearing, this person noted.

For example, the admiral was asked during a Tuesday hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee about the US relationship with Venezuela, well known for its irritating leader, Hugo Chavez.

This is how Stavridis replied: “As always, when I discuss Venezuela, I like to begin by pointing out that the United States has enjoyed a long, positive relationship with Venezuela stretching back 150 years. Clearly, we have some political differences right now. We do have correct, professional military-to-military relations with the Venezuelan military." The admiral, as head of Southern Command, is the man responsible for maintaining those "correct" relations with a state that has blustered and bloviated about American foreign policy and military intentions.

Stavridis, known as a fabulously smart and educated leader by those who have worked with him, was senior military assistant to Donald Rumsfeld and executive assistant to Obama campaign advisor Richard Danzig when he was Secretary of the Navy. He would be the first Navy officer to lead NATO.

For those who want to learn more about the admiral, have a gander at his books: "Destroyer Captain: Lessons of a First Command" and "Command at Sea."

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