A new chapter: embracing our past and moving forward
As I assume command of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and U.S. European Command, I am truly humbled to serve in the position held by such extraordinary leaders as Generals Eisenhower, Ridgway, Shalikashvili, Ralston and most recently Admiral Stavridis.
Over the years they led the development of the most powerful military alliance in the world with more modern air, sea and land capability than ever before. But as they did, I understand that the real power of the alliance comes from our people and our families.
To these great men and women, who ensure the transatlantic security of our nation and allies— to them I pledge to give nothing less than my best, to care for our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and their families who selflessly serve every day.
As my focus broadens from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa, to EUCOM and NATO, I will rely on the men and women of this alliance whose hard work and dedication honor their predecessors who created the conditions for security and prosperity here in Europe for the past 60 years. Although I am new to this position I am not a newcomer to the alliance or this part of the world. The experiences and relationships I have been so fortunate to build across Europe provide the launch pad from which I will begin to undertake my responsibilities in this dual-hatted position.
I truly believe that it’s relationships that make us successful and help us accomplish the mission. For example, today, at Lask Air Base, in Poland, our U.S. Air Force is conducting bilateral training… building relationships. But the partnership goes beyond training, as our Airmen are also reaching out to the Polish community and extending our genuine friendship, as they partner on service projects.
It’s these community outreach events, humanitarian assistance and other civic engagements that make a difference. These are the experiences that enhance the strength of our relationships and that are the most rewarding aspects of our missions across NATO and EUCOM.
So what happens now? During the first 100 days of command, my goal as the EUCOM commander is to visit each of our major components, talk to leaders and their teams, and learn how we can better assist them.
As the SACEUR, I will begin to visit our NATO allies here in Europe and our troops in Afghanistan.
It’s going to be a busy time, which brings me to something of great importance – family.
As we undertake missions here in Europe and elsewhere, I want to share a mantra my wife, Cindy, and I maintain – an idea that has helped keep me focused while balancing my career, marriage and family life.
Family came before the military. Family is there during the military. And, family is after the military.
We must accomplish the mission, but caring for our families is non-negotiable. In turn, caring for our families helps us accomplish our tasks. They are part of the mission.
Personally, I’m glad that Cindy and I have the amazing opportunity to continue living and working here in Europe. We’ve been stationed here on eight previous assignments. It’s always great to meet people and share friendships with neighbors, in our local communities.
Europeans and Americans share a commitment to being good neighbors, a sentiment that translates directly into our transatlantic alliance’s commitment.
To the EUCOM and SHAPE teams, I’d like to say thank you for a warm welcome! We will accomplish great things together.
As this is my first blog, I’d like to know what’s on your mind. What would you like to know from me?
I’ll do my best to answer you, either in replies to questions you post or as topics for future blogs. I encourage you to engage with each other in the comment section, as discussions and debates are often healthy pursuits.
Finally, I'm reminded of what Gen. Ridgway once said, "No ground gained was ever relinquished." Our alliance has gained much ground in capability, interoperability and mission success. We won’t retreat from that. Together with partners and allies, we will protect our gains as we continue to work to secure the future!