On Familiar Turf, Breedlove Stresses Partnership
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MONS, Belgium, May 13, 2013 NATO’s new supreme allied commander for operations is no stranger to the alliance or to Europe.
Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove has spent a third of his military career in Europe, having served eight tours in the region. He came to his new job from being the commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
“I’ve gained a deep, abiding respect and love for the people of this land, its history and the challenges we have overcome together,” Breedlove said after accepting the Allied Command Operations flag from outgoing commander Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis here today.
“Since its inception in 1949, this alliance has stood on the collective defense of its members,” Breedlove said. “It has been and remains a tremendous force for good.”
The alliance has grown, the general said, and as changes happened in history, its flexibility allowed it to confront different threats. “Today, the NATO alliance extends peace through its strategic projection of security,” he said. “Throughout all these changes, NATO has not only endured, it has triumphed.”
The solidarity of the NATO allies has been the bedrock of peace on the continent, Breedlove said. “Without our partnerships, noting is possible,” he added. “Together as partners, the possibilities are endless.”
NATO’s successes in Afghanistan and Libya are a direct result of the strength of the alliance, he said, and strengthening the alliance and NATO’s partnerships remains a crucial mission.
NATO’s interoperability directly led to the successes in Afghanistan and in the skies over Libya, Breedlove said, and he warned against allowing tight fiscal times to undo that work.
“We must all redouble our efforts to make sure we do not lose in a peace dividend or a budget negotiation the hard-won interoperability we have developed and which is so critical to the future success for the alliance,” he said.
Challenges to NATO loom, the general acknowledged, noting that the transition in Afghanistan “will require dogged determination and exceptional leadership.”
Financial challenges threaten NATO nations, Breedlove said, and will threaten military capabilities.
“We must skillfully deal with these challenges to ensure our alliance remains capable and effective,” he said, adding that alliance military leaders need to find new and innovative ways to use the resources the nations present for real capabilities.