STUTTGART, Germany — Special Operations Command, Europe's (SOCEUR) Establishment Day celebration took place on Patch Barracks here Jan. 19. About 200 people attended the annual event which marked the 52nd anniversary for the command. During the ceremony, SOCEUR commander Navy Rear Adm. William McRaven participated in adding a joint meritorous unit award to the command flag and noted that the organization, originally established in 1955, has a long and distinguished past including many different titles.
"The command changed names several times throughout the years — from [the] Support Plans Branch, to the Support Operations Command, to the Support Operations Task Force, the Special Operations Task Force and finally in 1983 to the Special Operations Command, Europe," he said. "Throughout those changes, it never lost its joint flavor."
The organization is comprised of Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine officers and enlistees.
"Our operational components reflect [a perfect joint military] blend," McRaven added. "The 352nd Special Operations Group in Mildenhall, [England], and Naval Special Warfare Unit Two; 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and the SOCEUR Signal Detachment, all located here in Stuttgart." The command headquarters is also located here.
Army Col. Fred Jones, SOCEUR headquarters operations directorate, says that working with members of all four services helps broaden his experience and improve the way he conducts day-to-day responsibilities. "Although, in numbers we are the smallest of the U.S. European Command's components, SOCEUR's contribution is not only significant, but is also of great strategic value," he said.
During the ceremony, Jones, along with Spec. Phillip Wongsing, SOCEUR Signal Detachment, were commemorated as the oldest and youngest SOCEUR members, respectively.
"Being older than many of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines at SOCEUR provides me an opportunity to share my experience and lessons learned over the years — both operationally and as a staff officer," Jones said. "I appreciate their honesty, enthusiasm and desire to learn how to be better professionals regardless of their individual specialties."
Jones stressed the importance of military members understanding the organization's history and heritage, the sacrifices made by those who previously served in the command and of maintaining the established standards and traditions.
"We can then step-up to those standards, work to improve them and understand why we and our families make sacrifices in the name of freedom and liberty," he said. In his closing remarks, McRaven reminded the service members that the U.S. is in a battle against a committed foe.
"Our nation has never backed down from a good fight — and this is the right fight, in the right place, at the right time. All of you in SOCEUR have a part to play, whether training host nation forces in Africa, partnering with our NATO allies in Afghanistan or fighting in Al Anbar province Iraq," he concluded. "As we continue to fight this war on terrorism, more will be asked of you, more will be expected of you. We must always remember and respect our history. We must always strive to live up to the standards of the past 52 years so that all who came before us and all who follow us, will be proud to say that they were members of Special Operations Command, Europe."