Secretary General, Excellencies, Chairman Peach, General Lanata, spectacular Chiefs of Defense, Flag officers, distinguished civilian senior leaders, great, great, Belgium host, friends, Chiefs, Family and most importantly, to the men and women of Allied Command Operations. Welcome. And on behalf of all of us, a huge thanks for the wonderful performance of this great formation.
Let me start by extending my thanks for the opportunity to continue to serve and sustain peace for nearly one billion citizens. I'm grateful for the trust of the President of the United States and our very own Secretary General. To Team Scaparrotti, 45 years ago this young, very, very tough patriot set off to the United States Military Academy. We refer to that as West Point. And he did so to follow in his Dad's footsteps. Today, he is comfortably regarded as one of the finest generals in military history. A claim that is shared from the Pacific to the Middle East and certainly here in Europe. Cindy, Scap - our sincere thanks to both of you for the peace that you've delivered and for the selfless service to freedom you've fulfill for the last 41 years. To call this sensational is an understatement. On behalf of all of us, we wish you secure travel while westbound over the Atlantic. You will be dearly missed.
Seventy years of peace is a monumental accomplishment and its our duty. Our heartfelt thanks to the Secretary General and his team for their willingness to adapt and allow comprehensive defense and shared response to prosper. Fifty-seven years ago, my dad, then CPT Wolters, was a NATO F102 pilot out of Bitburg Air Base, West Germany. And he was responsible for securing West German skies. Thirty-two years ago, this CPT Wolters was a NATO F15C pilot out of Bitburg Air Base, West Germany responsible for achieving local air superiority in the vicinity of the East German border.
NATO had changed. Yet the prospect of surviving a conflict in Dad's F102 and my 1987 F15C was a challenge. Eighteen short months ago, this Gen. Wolters had the opportunity to fly his NATO F15C over the skies of Bulgaria. I did so with a significantly increased outlook on survival. This was NATO adaptation at work. NATO speed and posture continue on a positive trajectory. And Allied Command Operations will work to sustain our focused approach to relationships, readiness, transparency and alignment. Vigilance Endures and existing orders for this great command remain in place.
Let me close by thanking my family. For six decades they have served NATO and they represent the same sacrifice that many of you and your own families have made. A mom who raised four kids and all of us subsequently served in uniform. And a mom who kept our feisty dad in great form and facilitated his impact on security. To my adorable bride, Charlene, who quietly yet relentlessly takes care of coalition warriors, our two children, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and five grandkids. We all look forward to serving at your side. We adore the peace that we will sustain together.
God Bless You.