The Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Admiral James Stavridis; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen; the Commander of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus; the US National Security Adviser, General James Jones; the French Chief of Staff, General Jean-Louis Georgelin; and the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, also took part in the event.
The NATO Secretary General paid tribute to General Mattis for the valuable contribution he brought to NATO's transformation process for the last three years. "From the outset, General Mattis served to demystify transformation, making the work of the command here in Norfolk understandable and relevant to the needs of the Alliance," he said.
General Abrial's nomination followed the decision of France to retake its full place in NATO's Integrated Military Structure, which was officially announced at the Strasbourg and Kehl Summit in April of this year. To date the Strategic Command had been headed by US commanders.
In his capacity as SACT, General Abrial will lead the transformation of NATO's military structure, forces, capabilities and doctrine to strengthen the interoperability and deployability of NATO's multinational forces.
"I already made clear that NATO's transformation is one of my main priorities,"said Mr Fogh Rasmussen. "My goal is to ensure that we have deployable troops, properly trained and properly equipped. And importantly, at a price nations can afford."
General Abrial takes his functions at a crucial moment in the Alliance's history, as the NATO Secretary General has just launched a process aimed at redefining NATO's Strategic Concept in line with today's security challenges.
"General Abrial, we welcome you in your new position and wish you bon courage with the challenges you face,"said Mr Fogh Rasmussen. He added: "At a time when the transformation of the Alliance, and ACT's role in that, is at a key moment, your extensive professional experience will be key."