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U.S. Army General Scaparrotti - 18th SACEUR

MONS, Belgium — NATO's 18th Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, assumes command of Allied Command Operations (ACO) from General Philip M. Breedlove at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) on May 4, 2016.

Military members and civilians from across the 28-nations attended the ceremony, highlighting the continuing unity and solidarity of the military alliance at SHAPE, which celebrated its 65th anniversary in April.

In his farewell remarks General Breedlove said it had been a privilege to serve the Alliance, and stressed the importance of NATO's role in today's global landscape.

"I really am very proud of all that you have done and you should not underestimate your achievements," Breedlove said. "NATO has gone through a fundamental adjustment... and the work that has gone into achieving that has been really significant."

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg presided over the change of command. During his remarks, Stoltenberg thanked General Breedlove for his service.

"Throughout these difficult times, your vision and your leadership have helped to make us more resilient, increased our level of readiness, strengthened our deterrence and enhanced our partnerships."

Stoltenberg also welcomed incoming SACEUR General Scaparrotti and stressed that the change comes at a critical time, both for NATO and for Europe. 

"In the months and years ahead, you will command forces from across our great Alliance and lead a remarkable team at SHAPE," said Stoltenberg adding "I know that you will do so with the same dedication, intelligence and professionalism you have shown throughout your impressive career."


Incoming Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Curtis M Scaparrotti, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and outgoing SACEUR General Philip M Breedlove arrive at the change of command ceremony in Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Mons, 4th May 2016. General Scaparrotti is the 18th officer to hold this prestigious position of Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). - NATO Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Stefan Hass - DEU A

Scaparrotti, who until now, served as the commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, said he believes relationships are the cornerstone of the Alliance.

"I look forward to maintaining the excellent relationship that this command has nurtured for many decades, and will continue to personally invest in relationships that will enable our Alliance to endure any challenge," Scaparrotti said.

"Today's challenges have evolved and significantly differ from those of the past," he said.  "Our alliance will need to counter hybrid threats, which can act with little or no warning, and also manifest themselves here 'at home."

One of NATO's two strategic commander posts, the position of SACEUR is the head of Allied Command Operations, the command responsible for the planning and execution of combined, joint, effects-based military operations in order to meet Alliance objectives.

Established in 1951 with General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the first SACEUR, the prestigious post is traditionally held by an American officer.  
During his speech, Scaparrotti said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve in this unique role.

"As our Alliance shares a long history formed on mutual commitment to stability and prosperity, it is the greatest honour and privilege to assume command built on such a great legacy," Scaparrotti said. 

Highlights of the ceremony included a flyover of four F-16s from the Belgian Air Force in honour of General Breedlove, who is also an F-16 pilot.  At the end of the ceremony, eight paratroopers from Allied nations, including the Vice Chief of Staff, French Lieutenant General Michel Yakovleff, landed on the parade field. Each paratrooper carried a flag representing a different aspect of NATO: the host nation of Belgium, NATO, ACO, and Allied Command Transformation (ACT), France in honour of French General Denis Mercier, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, the European Union, NATO Special Operations Headquarters, and the United States of America in honour of Generals Breedlove and Scaparrotti.

General Scaparrotti assumed command of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) during a similar ceremony on Tuesday in Stuttgart, Germany. SACEUR jointly holds the title of EUCOM commander as a way to achieve interoperability in the aim of strengthening NATO's collective defence.

To view photos from the change of command ceremony, please visit the SHAPE Flickr Change of Command Album.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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