Smith Takes Helm of U.S. Joint Forces, NATO Transformation Commands
By Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyce A. Velde, USN
Special to American Forces Press Service
NORFOLK, Va., Nov. 10, 2005 U.S. Air Force Gen. Lance L. Smith took command of NATO's Allied Command Transformation and U.S. Joint Forces Command during an assumption ceremony aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Norfolk Naval Station here today.
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed those in attendance, emphasizing the importance of both commands in bringing together different branches and different nations to achieve a joint mission.
"ACT and U.S. JFCOM are natural partners in all we have done up to today and what we must do for the future," Pace said. "There is no country so large and powerful that it can do this alone, and no country so small that it cannot contribute."
Ambassador Ed Kronenburg, director of the private office of NATO's secretary general, welcomed Smith on NATO's behalf. Kronenburg stressed the importance of the command's role in transforming NATO forces.
"Over the past two and a half years, the decision by NATO to create a transformational command has been well and truly vindicated," he said. "ACT has been the defining feature of the new alliance. ACT plays a vital role in keeping up the transformational momentum.
"In General Smith, NATO is fortunate to have a wealth of political and military experience," Kronenburg said. "His new position will be challenging, but I hope it will also be rewarding."
As NATO's ACT strategic commander, Smith will lead transformation within the alliance through concept development and military experimentation. ACT's employment of an effects-based approach to operations involves a comprehensive and integrated application of all instruments of alliance power. Transformation within national forces and those of NATO partners, a key element of the command's mission, relies upon robust research and technology combined with new concepts and doctrine for increased force interoperability. ACT is responsible for joint training and doctrine development within the alliance as well as for joint doctrine for and direction of NATO schools and colleges.
ACT command elements include the Joint Warfare Center, in Stavanger, Norway; the Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Center, in Monsanto, Portugal; the Joint Force Training Centre, in Bydgoszcz, Poland; SACT Representative Europe, in Brussels, Belgium; SACT Staff Element Europe, in Mons, Belgium; the NATO School, in Oberammergau, Germany; and the NATO Undersea Research Center, in La Spezia, Italy. Pace congratulated Smith on his selection as supreme allied commander, transformation, and JFCOM commander, adding that he was a perfect fit for the two commands.
"There is no human being on this earth I would rather have take this command than General Smith," Pace said. "This warrior brings enormous experience to these commands. He brings great intellect, wisdom and tenacity, and he will have need of all of them."
Also headquartered in Norfolk, Va., JFCOM is one of nine unified commands in the Department of Defense. The general will oversee the command's roles in transformation, experimentation, joint training, interoperability, and force provision and management as outlined in the Department of Defense's Unified Command Plan.
JFCOM is a force of more than 1.16 million active and reserve soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, spanning the command's four service component commands and eight subordinate activities. JFCOM personnel include members from each branch of the U.S. military, civil servants, contract employees, and consultants.
After officially assuming command of ACT and JFCOM, Smith addressed the guests. He thanked the personnel of both commands for their efforts in transforming NATO and U.S. forces, respectively.
"This is the first time an Air Force general has taken command of two commands typically led by admirals," Smith said. "I hope you don't see this as sacrilege. I see it as a sign of how far we have come."
Smith also thanked U.K. Royal Navy Adm. Mark Stanhope and U.S. Army Lt. General Robert Wagner, who served as acting SACT and JFCOM commander, after the departure of U.S. Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr. in August. Giambastiani departed the commands to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Admiral Stanhope and General Wagner have done more than hold the course for these two commands," Smith said. They have continued the drive and purpose for transformation and have made my job easier."
At the conclusion of his address, Smith emphasized the importance of junior military members in achieving the commands' goals. The new generation of military personnel is an excellent fit for the mission of transformation, he said.
"This generation is not familiar with three words that we come across far too often: 'we used to,'" he said. "They are focused on the new enemies that face us. There is no going back to the way we used to be. Transforming is not about doing the same things better, but doing better things."
(Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyce A. Veldeis assigned to Allied Command Transformation.)