DETROIT - General Motors Co is giving responsibility for U.S. sales to North America President Mark Reuss in the latest management shakeup that the automaker said it needs to improve its performance.

Reuss, three months into his job, is the third executive in five months to lead the automaker's U.S. sales operations.

The move will leave Susan Docherty, who was named vice president in charge of U.S. sales in October, with responsibility for marketing.

GM's announcement on Tuesday is the latest in a reshuffling of its senior leadership team under Ed Whitacre, whom the Obama administration named as chairman in July when GM emerged from a U.S. government-financed bankruptcy. He took over as chief executive in December.

The announcement comes as February U.S. sales results from major automakers showed Ford Motor Co surpassed GM as the industry's top seller for the first time since 1998.

I don't think we moved far enough and fast enough, Reuss said on a conference call with reporters.

The structure before just wasn't right for what GM needs right now. These are the changes that are necessary to have GM North America move faster, Reuss said.

GM named Alan Batey vice president of sales and service for its flagship Chevrolet brand. Batey was president and managing director of GM's Holden operations in Australia.

Brian Sweeney remains with Buick-GMC as U.S. sales and service vice president, while Kurt McNeil was named U.S. sales and service vice president at Cadillac. McNeil was general sales manager at Chevrolet.

The three executives report to Reuss.

Reporting to Docherty are Jim Campbell, who was appointed to the role of U.S. marketing vice president, Chevrolet; Don Butler, U.S. marketing vice president, Cadillac; John Schwegman, U.S. marketing vice president, Buick-GMC.

Reuss said he had been working with a small group of executives to determine a new structure for its sales and marketing team and presented the new structure to the board of directors earlier on Tuesday.

Ed Whitacre strongly supported the changes, he said.

GM on Tuesday posted a nearly 12 percent gain in U.S. February sales from a year ago, when U.S. auto sales were near the bottom of a punishing slump and the automaker was sliding toward bankruptcy.

Ford posted a much stronger 43 percent gain in February U.S. sales to take the industry's top spot.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim. Editing by Robert MacMillan)