Updated: 28-Jun-2004 NATO Speeches

Istanbul, Turkey

27 June 2004


by NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
at the NATO Response Force (NRF) Change of Command Ceremony

NATO Istanbul Summit
NATO Response Force (NRF)
High resolution photos

Generals, Admiral,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first thank General Özkök for hosting this change of command ceremony on the occasion of our Istanbul Summit. You have been a force for modernisation of the Turkish Armed Forces, General Özkök. And that makes you a most suitable host for this event.

This ceremony today marks another milestone in the transformation of NATO.

The NATO Response Force was only launched last October and it has come a long way in a very short time. When its initial operational capability is achieved in four months, this will mark another step-change in its evolution. So even as far as its own development is concerned, speed is clearly the NRF’s hallmark.

The NATO Response Force is at the centre of the Alliance’s military transformation. It not only gives us a high readiness and deployable force in which all the Allies will engage together. It is also a hothouse in which advanced technologies and doctrines flourish. And because all Allies have the possibility of contributing forces to the NRF, the benefits will flow throughout the Alliance.

General Jones, under your leadership, the NRF has turned from an idea into a reality, and I want to express my heartfelt congratulations to you for a job extremely well done.

General Back, a sincere word of thanks to you as well, for your outstanding service to the NRF over the past months.

Admiral Johnson, you take command of the NRF at a time of great opportunity. I am confident that under your leadership, the NRF will continue to evolve into a sharp and effective tool for our Alliance – the flagship of a true 21st century NATO.

On this occasion, I am pleased to also mark the declaration of full operational capability of NATO’s new Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence Battalion, led by the Czech Republic.

The CBRN Battalion is a superb example of how NATO is transforming to deal with the new threats posed by weapons of mass destruction. And like the NRF, the Battalion is an excellent demonstration of what we in NATO can achieve by working together multinationally.

As NATO Secretary General, this fills me with great pride -- and with great confidence for the future.

Thank you.

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