Updated: 05-May-2000 NATO Speeches

At the ACE
Change of
3 May 2000


presented by General Clark

Secretary General Lord Robertson, Admiral & Mrs. Venturoni, Ministers, Excellencies, Chiefs of Defense, Regional Commanders, fellow general and flag officers, distinguished guests, Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, comrades-in-arms:

SecGen, thank you, for those kind remarks . . . and I would like to thank all of you for being here today. Your presence is a powerful symbol of the breadth of this alliance, and its significance to the Euro-Atlantic community.

The soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines on the field before us are also a symbol of this alliance's ultimate capabilities and strengths, founded on the profession of arms and representing a total of 44 nations, as well as the subordinate commands of Allied Command Europe.

Please join me in thanking them, and all the men and women serving today for NATO, who are doing the difficult and dangerous work in uniform for this alliance.

It is the union together of its political leadership and moral resolve with its military power that has made this alliance such a powerful force for right and good in the world today.

It has truly been an important and challenging period, in which the Alliance has transformed itself with a new strategic doctrine, enlarged itself with three new members, worked to create a new relationship and accepted new commitments to enhancing its military capabilities and the weight and role of its European members . . . and all the while we have been engaged in an ongoing peace operation in Bosnia, a crisis response to an evolving humanitarian emergency regional destabilization . . . including the air campaign against the Former Republic of Yugloslavia, the humanitarian assistance to the displaced Kosovar Albanians and governments of the region, and finally, the establishment of a second PSO on the ground in Kosovo.

The successes in this period have been result of superb team work at all levels, and I would like to thank the heads of government and state, ministers of foreign affairs and defense and the NATO ambassadors of all the alliance members for their confidence and courage in these difficult times . . . and especially to thank the political leaders of the alliance, SecGen Robertson, his predecessor, Javier Solana, and Deputy Secretary General Sergio Balanzino, for their guidance, encouragement and support.

Let me also thank the Chairman of the Military Committee, Admiral Guido Venturoni and his predecessor, Gen Klaus Naumann, the Deputy Chairman, LTG Mike Byron, the Chiefs of Defense, and each of their Military Representatives at the Military Committee for your teamwork, guidance, support and friendship.

And, close at hand, let me thank my colleagues and subordinates within Allied Command Europe, CINC North General Joachim Spiering and his partner ACM John Cheshire, former CINC NW, and especially CINC South Admiral Jim Ellis, who played such a key role as operational commander in Allied Force last year; the commanders of our forces in Bosnia and Kosovo, Com SFORs Generals Crouch, Shinseki, Meigs, and Adams, and the Com KFORs, Generals Jackson, Reinhardt and Ortuño, the commander of our humanitarian mission in Albania last year, General John Reith.
And to my teammates, advisors, friends at SHAPE, especially to the DSACEUR, General Sir Rupert Smith and his predecessor, General Sir Jeremy McKenzie and the Chief of Staff, General Dieter Stöckmann and his predecessor, General Peter Carsten-and our staff here and POLAD Mike Durkee-thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Together we have demonstrated that there is nothing stronger than the power of ideas-of freedom, of law, and of justice-and that democratic peoples united in a vision of a common imperative form an irresistible and magnetic force which is transforming the very nature of Europe today.

During the last week, as I visited Croatia, B-H, and Kosovo, I have seen first hand the great dedication and skill of our troops on the ground, and further evidence of the success of our missions in the Balkans . . . a bold new democratic government in Croatia, the burgeoning stream of DPRE returns in B-H, even to Srebrenica . . . and in Kosovo, new signs of cooperation and tolerance as the trauma of ethnic cleansing recedes.

To have been able to serve as part of this transatlantic team, to have been given the confidence and support of the political and military leaders of the alliance, as well as its commanders and men and women in the field-it's simply been the greatest privilege, the greatest honor, the greatest gift of my life and I thank you.

For Allied Command Europe the mission will continue and so will the challenges, and to Joe and De-de Ralston we give our best wishes for dealing with these in the months and years ahead. We truly appreciate what you will face, and wish for your every success.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said as he activated this headquarters in 1951 that if we think clearly enough, plan carefully enough, and work tirelessly enough, we can both secure freedom and preserve peace. It was the formula that saw us successfully throughout the Cold War-and it is vital today.

But I would suggest there is today something more . . . the vision to see the future as it could be . . . the courage to dare to attain it . . . and the determination to persevere in this pursuit even in the face of difficulties.
Vision, courage, determination-these qualities that brought success in Operation Allied Force . . . these qualities give comfort to all those who seek simply to live in peace and freedom, and make a better world for their children. These qualities are NATO today, and we have been so privileged to a part of this!

A notre hôte, le Gouvernement belge et à nos amis de Mons: mon épouse et moi-même vous remercions du fond du coeur. Au revoir et bonne chance.

To the men and women of Allied Command Europe, you have our deepest gratitude and respect for your support dedication and friendship, and our best wishes in the days and months ahead. We bid you all a fond farewell.

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