Shanahan, Dunford cancel Europe trip due to unrest in Venezuela

Shanahan, Dunford cancel Europe trip due to unrest in Venezuela

U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa commander, greets Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 10, 2019 (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devin M. Rumbaugh)

WASHINGTON — Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has canceled a two-day trip to Europe in order to remain in Washington to help deal with the situation in Venezuela, the Pentagon said Wednesday.

Shanahan was to leave today and fly to Germany to participate in change-of-command ceremonies on Thursday and Friday.

He was to join Gen. James Dunford, chair of the joint chiefs of staff, to preside at the ceremonies.

Dunford canceled his plans to attend earlier this week “due to competing requirements here in DC,” his office said.

“Acting Secretary Shanahan will no longer travel to Europe as he has determined remaining present in DC would allow him to more effectively coordinate with National Security Council and the State Department in Venezuela and to continue coordination with DHS for support along the Southwest border,” Lt. Colonel Joe Buccino, public affairs officer for Shanahan, said in a note to Pentagon reporters.

President Donald Trump met with National Security Adviser John Bolton to discuss Venezuela Wednesday morning, according to news reports. Shanahan was testifying on Capitol Hill at the time.

Also testifying on Capitol Hill was Adm. Craig Faller, commander, U.S. Southern Command. He told members of a Home Armed Services Subcommittee that all U.S. military options were ready for Venezuela, with the overall plan being to work in concert with regional allies.

The change-of-command ceremonies set for this week are for Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, who will take over from retiring Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti as the head of U.S. European Command on Thursday and then become NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe on Friday.

Venezuela is facing street clashes between supporters and opponents of President Nicholas Maduro, deepening a crisis that has left the country economically and politically broken.

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