"It was fantastic to be part of this team," said Van der Laan during the ceremony in the city centre of Münster. "A true honour and a pleasure."
He will move to Brussels, where he will lead the Netherlands' permanent representation to NATO and the EU. Van der Laan began his third position within the multinational headquarters 1 GNC in April 2016. In the three years that followed he led the staff to a year on stand-by as the first 'Joint Task Force Headquarters (Land)', saw it take part in the biggest NATO exercise in recent history (Trident Juncture in Norway), and recently took over again as 'Land Component Command' in the NATO Response Force.
A commander is nothing without his staff
Meanwhile, in exercises 'FOX', 'Vital Sword', and 'Wizard Sword' 1 GNC proved itself as a Professional Training Platform.
Van der Laan's constant push to 'lean forward' made the HQ a frontrunner of concept development within NATO while the annual exercise Common Effort continues to guarantee permanent cooperation between the military, International Organisations and (Non) Governmental Organisations.
"The men and women of the headquarters, Staff Support Battalion, and Communication and Information Systems Battalion are lined up here today", the commander added. "I enjoyed being your commander. Each and every one of you is well-trained and motivated; ready to be called upon. We are the spearhead of NATO."
Lieutenant General Alfons Mais
Having recently returned from his deployment to Kabul, Lieutenant General Alfons Mais takes up command of 1 GNC. The Army Aviation Officer has commanded battalions and brigades, and fulfilled multiple postings in the German Army Staff. Mais: "A commander is nothing without his staff and I look forward to the challenges we will face over the course of the next years."