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Nov 8 2019

NATO Special operations headquarters holds change of command

SHAPE, Belgium- A Change of Command ceremony took place for the NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) on Thursday, November 7, 2019.

Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General General Tod D. Wolters presided over the event which saw Vice Admiral Colin J. Kilrain hand over command of the NSHQ to Lieutenant General Eric P. Wendt.

Incoming NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) commander Lieutenant General Eric P. Wendt, left, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Tod D. Wolters, centre, and Outgoing NSHQ commander Vice Admiral Colin J. Kilrain stand at attention during a change of command ceremony at SHAPE on November 7, 2019. During the ceremony Lieutenant General Wendt assumed command from Vice Admiral Kilrain as the 5th commander of NSHQ.

Vice Admiral Colin J. Kilrain will now serve as the Associate Director for Military Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency. Vice Admiral Kilrain stated “Susan and I have enjoyed being part of the great NSHQ family and living in Europe. NSHQ continues to add substance and build Special Operations Forcesacross the Alliance and with our partners. I know the great work by the team will remain at the forefront as the Alliance addresses enduring and emerging challenges”.

General Wolters noted that Vice Admiral Kilrain was instrumental in transforming NSHQ into a headquarters that is truly able to provide relevant and timely Special Operations Forces(SOF) advice across the Alliance. "The Alliance has been strengthened by your leadership in developing NATO and Partner nation Special Operations Forces’ capacity and capabilities. You have led with authority as the role of NSHQ has evolved.” said General Wolters.


SACEUR welcomed Lieutenant General Wendt and his family to SHAPE and reminded the audience, "Maintaining perpetual peace through deterrence in the Euro-Atlantic is our challenge. We will meet it head-on with lazer sharp focus on readiness and by continuing to improve our speed and stance.”

Master Chief Andrew Harrison, NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) command senior enlisted leader, receives the NSHQ guidon from incoming NSHQ commander Lieutenant General Eric P. Wendt during a change of command ceremony held at SHAPE on November 7, 2019. During the ceremony Lieutenant General Wendt assumed command from Vice Admiral Kilrain as the 5th commander of NATO Special Operations Headquarters.

Lieutenant General Wendt is a distinguished U.S. Army Special Forces officer with vast combat experience. He said, "I am humbled by the assignment to command NSHQ. The role NSHQ plays for the alliance is key, and we must maintain focus on networking, interoperability, comprehensive defense and on NATO SOF readiness for potential near-peer aggressors and terrorist threats”.

Lieutenant General Wendt becomes the fifth Commander of the NATO Special Operations Headquarters and its first Commander from the US Army Special Forces, known as the “Green Berets”.

Created in 2009, the mission of NATO Special Operations Headquarters is to provide strategic SOF advice to NATO, and coordinate the development of SOF capability and interoperability for Allies and Partners. Within a comprehensive framework, NSHQ balances strategic and operational planning to employ relevant, ready, integrated SOF for NATO. The HQ is located next to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons, Belgium while the NATO SOF School is located on nearby Chievres Air Base.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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