Lieutenant General Frederick Benjamin "Ben" Hodges III (born 16 April 1958) is a retired United States Army officer who served as commanding general, United States Army Europe (USAREUR). He is currently the Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis.
A 1980 United States Military Academy graduate, Hodges became an infantry officer, serving as a platoon leader and company executive officer in the 2nd Armored Division in Germany. After completing the Infantry Officer Advanced Course in 1984, he served with the 101st Airborne Division. In March 1989 Hodges became an instructor at the United States Army Infantry School. He studied at the Command and General Staff College and graduated from the School of Advanced Military Studies in 1993, becoming G-3 of the 2nd Infantry Division.
Hodges served as a battalion executive officer with the 101st Airborne before becoming Aide-de-camp to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe in August 1995. He became a battalion commander in the 101st Airborne in 1997. He was Congressional Liaison Officer at the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison between 1999 and 2000. After graduating from the National War College in 2001, Hodges served at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk. Taking command of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne in 2002, Hodges led the brigade in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In 2004, Hodges became assistant chief of staff of the XVIII Airborne Corps and later simultaneously served as assistant chief of staff of Multi-National Corps – Iraq. He became chief of staff of the XVIII Airborne Corps and was deputy chief of Legislative Liaison at the Office of the Secretary of the Army from 2007. In August 2009, Hodges became director of operations of Regional Command South in Afghanistan. In December 2010 he became director of the Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell at the Joint Staff and in November 2012 took command of Allied Land Command. Hodges became commander of United States Army Europe in November 2014, holding that position for three years until retiring from the army in 2017.
Early life and career
Hodges was born on 16 April 1958 in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Army veteran and life insurance agent Frederick Benjamin Hodges, Jr. and Nell Davis Hodges. He graduated from James A. Shanks High School in Quincy, Florida, in 1976. Hodges entered the United States Military Academy, graduating in May 1980 with a commission in the Infantry. In February 1981, he became a platoon leader in A Company of the 3d Battalion of the 2nd Armored Division's 41st Infantry (Mechanized), stationed in Germany. On 28 November, he was promoted to first lieutenant. Hodges later became an executive officer in the company, serving there until March 1984. He was promoted to captain on 1 February. He took the Infantry Officer Advanced Course at the United States Army Infantry School, completing it in September.
In December 1984, Hodges became assistant S4 of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade. He later became brigade assistant S-3. In May 1986, he took command of C Company of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry of the division. He later became S-3 of the battalion. Between July 1988 and March 1989 Hodges served as assistant S-3 of the division's 1st Brigade. In March, he became a small group instructor at the United States Army Infantry School. He was later Chief of the Tactics Team there. In August 1991, he became a student at the Command and General Staff College, being promoted to major on 1 September. Hodges later graduated from the School of Advanced Military Studies. In June 1993, he became chief of the Plans Division and G-3 of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.
In July 1994, Hodges became executive officer of the 327th Infantry's 3d Battalion. He became Aide-de-camp to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe in August 1995, serving there until June 1997. On 1 July 1996 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In June 1997, Hodges took command of the 3d Battalion of the 187th Infantry with the 101st Airborne. He was Congressional Liaison Officer at the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison between July 1999 and July 2000. In August of that year he entered the National War College, graduating in June 2001. In July Hodges became Senior Battalion Observer and Controller of the Operations Group at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk. On 1 March 2002 he was promoted to colonel.
Iraq, Afghanistan, and United States Army Europe
In June 2002, Hodges took command of the 101st Airborne's 1st Brigade, leading it in Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 23 March 2003, before the start of the operation, Sergeant Hassan Akbar attacked other soldiers of the brigade, killing two and injuring fourteen. Hodges suffered a minor shrapnel wound in the attack and testified at Akbar's court-martial in April 2005. The brigade fought in the Battle of Najaf in late March and early April. In August 2004, Hodges became assistant chief of staff and G-3 of the XVIII Airborne Corps. Between January 2005 and January 2006 he simultaneously served as assistant chief of staff and CJ3 of Multi-National Corps – Iraq. In July, Hodges became chief of staff of the XVIII Airborne Corps. In August 2007, he became deputy chief of Legislative Liaison at the Office of the Secretary of the Army. On 14 May 2008, he was promoted to brigadier general. In August 2009, Hodges became director of operations of Regional Command South in Afghanistan. In December 2010 he became director of the Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell at the Joint Staff. Hodges was promoted to major general on 2 February 2011. On 22 September 2012 he was promoted to lieutenant general. On 30 November 2012, Hodges became the first commander of Allied Land Command. Hodges replaced Lieutenant General Donald M. Campbell in command of United States Army Europe on 5 November 2014. He retired from the Army and relinquished command of USAREUR on 15 December 2017.
Hodges retired to Florida and began work for the think tank Center for European Policy Analysis, becoming the latter's Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies. At CEPA, Hodges has advocated for a stronger NATO. On defense expenditures, Hodges has said, “We need a more sophisticated approach to the spending guideline. The 2-percent number gets tossed around like dues in a club, which is unhelpful... I think the Alliance should take a hard look at the 2-percent calculus to redefine it.” He has argued for including dual-use infrastructure in the 2-percent, a "win-win" that would address "the most urgent problem in European security" in military mobility, while also offering benefits to civilian life. On Iran, Hodges said, "I was disappointed that we were leaving the agreement with Iran. Not because it's a good deal, but because cooperation with our allies is very important... It worries me when we show contempt for such important allies as Great Britain, Germany or France. The cohesion of our nations was our strength and advantage. Considering all the factors, one must remember that one must not stand against the allies."
Since retirement, his comments on NATO and European security have appeared in several international media outlets, including an interview on LNK Info TV in Lithuania and articles in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany. As of 2018, he is an Advisory Board Member of Spirit of America, a 501(c)(3) organization.
Hodges is divorced from his former wife Holly with whom he had two children. He also speaks German. In a BBC interview, Hodges stated that Brexit could threaten the NATO alliance.