NATO Secretary General thanks US military personnel for their service

  • 28 May. 2015 -
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  • Last updated: 29 May. 2015 07:40

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg thanked US servicemen and women during a visit to Florida and Georgia on Thursday (28 May 2015). Speaking at 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard in Jacksonville, the Secretary General thanked them for being part of the US substantial contribution to the strength and security of the Alliance.

Cmdr. David Forman, commanding officer of USS Alaska's Blue crew, speaks with NATO Secratary General Jens Stoltenberg during a tour of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Alaska. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rex Nelson)

The Secretary General was briefed on the unit’s operations, and met commanders, flight crews, and support personnel.  Mr Stoltenberg thanked the Florida National Guard for deploying “airmen and fighter planes from here all the way to Europe, as the first US National Guard to take part in Operation Atlantic Resolve.” The Florida National Guard is currently deployed to Bulgaria, and will then deploy to Romania as part of assurance measures to Eastern Allies. The Secretary General said, "we thank you even more because you leave behind your families and your full-time jobs to serve."

The Secretary General then visited the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.  Mr. Stoltenberg met commanders and submarine personnel and was briefed on the capabilities of the base. He toured the ballistic missile submarine USS Alaska, and ended his visit with a tour of the base’s Strategic Weapons Facility.

He said, "I was so impressed by the remarkable professionalism of all those who serve here, and ensure that our nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective."

The Secretary General will conclude his US visit on Friday at  Naval Station Mayport in Florida, where he will meet the crew of the Aegis destroyer USS Carney before the ship deploys to Spain to be part of NATO's missile defence system.

Earlier this week, Mr. Stoltenberg met with President Barack Obama at the White House. He also held talks with Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice,  Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, and other senior officials. While in Washington DC, the Secretary General also delivered a speech on NATO’s adaptation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).