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.

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.

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Gen. Phil Breedlove, incoming Supreme Allied Commander Europe, receives SHAPE Command Flag from Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, during the Allied Command Operations change of command ceremony on May 13, 2013. General Breedlove is the seventeenth American officer to hold this prestigious position of Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

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.

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Deputy Commander, 32d Tactical Air Base, Lask, Poland, Lt Col Zbigniew Rosiak, greets pilots of the 176th Fighter Squadron, Madison, Wisconsin, upon arrival at Lask Air Base.

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.

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Maj. Sven Olson, BAO Ukraine California National Guard, teaches the children how to do the "wave" at the opening of the “Ruska Poliana” Children’s TB Rehab Center.

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.

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Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, United States Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander, assists former Minister President Kurt Beck with putting his flight jacket on during Beck’s U.S. Air Forces in Europe Medal of Distinction ceremony on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, March 8, 2013. The USAFE Medal of Distinction is awarded to non-U.S. citizens in recognition of extraordinary service, achievements, or support to the accomplishment of the mission of USAFE.

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!

"From the cockpit"
Phil Breedlove
General, USAF
Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Commander, U.S. European Command
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