OEIRAS, Portugal – Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe, Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and Commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO, commemorated the arrival of the NATO command to its new location during a ceremony here May 17.
The ceremony was held at the historic San Julião da Barra Fort. The fort serves as the official residence of Portugal’s Minister of National Defense, José Pedro Aguiar-Branco, who welcomed the command’s move to Portugal and said he looks forward to working with Striking Force NATO in the future.
Striking and Support Forces NATO serves as the Alliance’s maritime battle staff and primary link for integrating U.S. carrier strike and amphibious forces into NATO operations. Today, agreements between 11 nations make Striking Force NATO a rapidly deployable, multi-national headquarters that provides scalable command and control across the full spectrum of Alliance fundamental security tasks.
“In a world full of uncertainty, where the reaction time to crises must be necessarily very short, Striking Force NATO, maintains a high state of readiness and is a particularly important and vital resource within the NATO,” said Minister Aguiar-Branco.
During the ceremony, Vice Adm. Pandolfe said “relocation of Striking Force NATO to Lisbon is the first step of an effort to reform NATO's organizational structure; an initiative aimed at streamlining the alliance while strengthening its responsiveness.”
The move of the 100-person NATO command headquarters ahead of schedule required significant effort. Portuguese Chief of Defense, General Luís Araújo thanked, “all the dedicated Portuguese and foreign military and civilians who committed themselves to the Striking Force NATO’s transfer process from Naples to Lisbon.”
Minister Aguiar-Branco reiterated that sentiment and stressed, “During the several last months, our teams have worked together in a very intense and professional way. The results could not be better. We can be proud of our common achievement.”
Vice Adm. Pandolfe thanked his new hosts for their support for the move. “We are grateful to the Government of Portugal for their support of this move and for hosting Striking Force NATO in Lisbon. Making that happen requires leadership – provided today by the Government of Portugal in welcoming us to this beautiful compound.”
Vice Adm. Pandolfe also expressed his gratitude to the command’s former hosts in Naples, Italy, after having its headquarters there for nearly 60 years. “During that time, we formed strong bonds of friendship and our memories of Italy will always remain heartfelt.”