Admiral Leads Special Operations Command Europe
By Jaime L. Wood
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 28, 2006 Special Operations Command Europe welcomed its first Navy leader during a change of command ceremony here June 26.
"Rear Admiral (William H.) McRaven brings a wealth of national and special warfare experience to the table and is eminently qualified to take SOCEUR to new heights in mission success," said Marine Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., head of U.S. European Command. "It's a historic time for (him) to join us in this changing world and theater."
The joint-force command is responsible for special operations conducted within the EUCOM area of operation, including 92 countries in Africa, Europe and Eurasia.
"We've deepened our military relationships over the past three years during multiple operations that were critical to our mutual national interests," Jones said. "In addition to working with our German host, we've also enjoyed the mutual beneficial bilateral training arrangements with several other nations, many of whom are building their special operations forces capabilities made relevant by today's global war on terrorism realities."
Jones noted that outgoing SOCEUR commander Army Maj. Gen. Thomas R. Csrnko was a "key architect in forging Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Sahara," which is the military contribution to the Trans-Sahara counterterrorism initiative.
"Under Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Sahara, SOCEUR has initiated training and advisory assisted missions in Trans-Sahara Africa, enabled partner nations to meet terrorist threats with effective capabilities, and you've been visionary in conducting land mark exercises," Jones said to the outgoing commander.
Csrnko said his greatest challenge and success during his SOCEUR tenure was finding the common ground where conventional and unconventional military units could successfully complete shared missions.
"The goal was to take special operations forces and (combine) them with U.S. European Command support of counterterrorism efforts in the global war on terrorism," Csrnko said. "We bring unique capabilities in that our special operations forces can operate in some austere environments and help the host nation forces not only protect themselves, but work together across board, enhancing the ability to cross certain regions."
"By working together, the mutual support among the components gives an enormous amount of capability and flexibility to the EUCOM commander," he said.
Jones said a steadfast fury of exercises continue to refine the current special operations force standard. He urged the new commander to retain what works.
"These exercises are still relevant and very important. They give life to the NATO response force, which is an essential element. And they are a transformational cornerstone of NATO's military future," he said. "They give us a new perspective on the emerging war on terrorism mission set and they demonstrate how special operations forces bring unique and essential skills to the asymmetric battle."
"I'm excited about the challenges that lay ahead - from expanding the special operations command role in Africa to building upon our great relationships with NATO's special operations forces and our many other allies," McRaven said. The new commander also guaranteed "exciting days ahead" for SOCEUR members and component commands.
"Special operations soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will be on the forefront of the war on terrorism and countless other difficult endeavors," he said. "I can think of no better place to be and no better people to be there. You have changed the face of special ops in Europe and beyond. To get to where you are today required hard work, dedication and sacrifice. The path to the future will require more of the same. It will be my privilege to travel that road with you."
Previous to his SOCEUR assignment, McRaven was the deputy commanding general for operations at Joint Special Operations Command, Ft. Bragg, N.C.
Csrnko, who had led SOCEUR since August 2003 and will become commanding general, U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.
(Jaime L. Wood works for U.S. European Command Public Affairs.)