by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the SACEUR Change of Command Ceremony
Mrs Hall Stavridis,
Welcome to SHAPE, where we have gathered to bid farewell to General Craddock and Mrs and to pay tribute to the distinguished service General Craddock has given to our Alliance. And we are also here to welcome Admiral Stavridis and Mrs to the NATO family.
General Craddock, you assumed command as SACEUR the week after the NATO summit in Riga, on 7 December 2006. You had been selected for this unique post not just for your outstanding skills as a soldier – but also because of your leadership skills and political astuteness.
And I think it is fair to say that all these skills have been required over these past two and a half very busy years.
General Craddock, your tour as the Alliance’s most senior operational commander has coincided with NATO’s busiest operational period in its 60 year history. Your achievements during this period have been numerous. I would like to highlight a few – because I think they clearly show the challenges you have faced – and the accomplishments for which you justifiably deserve credit.
You have, first of all, guided the expansion of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan. The mission has almost tripled in size, and many more countries – Allies and partner nations -- are now making valuable contributions. There has been progress in much of the country in terms of security, as well as in reconstruction and development although we all know the challenges are still formidable.
Nearer to home, in Kosovo, your leadership enabled KFOR to successfully provide security and stability through a particularly challenging period that included the declaration of independence, and the transition of administrative responsibilities from the United Nations to the European Union. You also oversaw the stand-down of the Kosovo Protection Corps and the standing-up of the Kosovo Security Force. And most recently, you have guided the preparations for KFOR’s possible restructuring to a Deterrent Presence as discussed by NATO Defence Ministers only a few weeks ago.
Within the past year, General Craddock, you have also had to “get your feet wet” – if I might use such a term. Although you are a US Army officer, you have shown considerable understanding of maritime matters in the way you successfully deployed Alliance naval forces to patrol the sea lanes off the Horn of Africa on counter piracy operations.
But it is not only on operations and missions that you have left your personal mark. You have made your command structure more responsive. You have been a firm supporter of NATO’s transformation. You have played a major role in re-designing the NATO Response Force to reflect the operational tempo and ensure that NATO has a viable crisis response force at its disposal to better face the new challenges and threats. You and I will will agree. We are not there yet. Our successors will have to guide further discussion on what we could qualify as “the usability of the NRF”.
And the establishment of two new, but key transformational capabilities – the Intelligence Fusion Centre and the NATO Special Operations Coordination Centre – are also testimony to your personal investments.
General Craddock, I am aware that you will be moving back to the United States and retiring shortly.
And after such a busy, and successful career in uniform, I know that you are looking forward to being able to spend more time with your family – with your wife Linda, son Zachary, daughter Amanda, daughter-in-law Rania, and granddaughters Addy and Lizzie.
And if my intelligence is correct – one of the first events that your impending retirement will allow you to enjoy with Linda is your 40th wedding anniversary next month. During those 40 years Linda has not only provided you with fantastic support, she has also dedicated herself to efforts to improve the quality of life for other service members, their families and friends. And I know that Linda will be greatly missed here in SHAPE for all the work she has done in fostering relations between the families of all the personnel who are stationed here.
General Craddock, over the course of the past two and a half years, you have demonstrated outstanding leadership, dedication, integrity and professionalism. And I am particularly grateful for the support you have provided me. On behalf of all members of the North Atlantic Council, I should like to say “thank you” for your commitment to our Alliance, and to wish you and Linda the very best of good fortune for a long and thoroughly well deserved retirement.
I can think of no better way of marking the end of your service in uniform and your successful period in command here at SHAPE, than by presenting you with this medal – the NATO Meritorious Service Medal. General Craddock, thank you and congratulations.
[ PRESENTATION OF MEDAL ]
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is a “Change of Command” ceremony, and the tremendous responsibility -- and privilege -- of commanding Allied Command Operations now passes to Admiral Stavridis, United States Navy.
Admrial Stavridis, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you to SHAPE as our new Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and as the first Admiral in the Alliance’s history to assume this unique appointment.
Admiral Stavridis, you arrive here from the sunny climate of Miami in Florida. And while I cannot promise you that you will see as much sun here, I can certainly promise you that you will be at least as busy as you have been working at US Southern Command these past three years. I am also sure that your personal, academic and professional qualifications will stand you in excellent stead to deal successfully with your new appointment.
On behalf of the entire NATO community, please accept my very best wishes for your new command. I know that everyone is very much look forward to working closely with you – and my only regret is that I shall have the opportunity to work with you only for the rest of this month. Admiral Stavridis, again, a very warm welcome.