NATO today appointed Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, United States Air Force, to succeed Gen. Wesley K. Clark as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. The appointment will become effective in May 2000.
In a letter from the President of the United States of America to the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, who is chairman of the Defense Planning Committee, the President asked the member governments to agree to release General Clark from his assignment as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.
The committee agreed with great regret to release General Clark. They expressed to General Clark, in the name of NATO governments, lasting gratitude for his distinguished service.
Echoing the sentiments of his NATO counterparts, U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said: "General Clark has served his country and NATO with extraordinary skill and dedication. His leadership was central to the success of Operation Allied Force, which stopped the killing in Kosovo, and he has been instrumental in bringing stability to Bosnia. NATO is stronger and Europe is more secure because of General Clark's leadership."
President Clinton was asked to nominate an officer of the United States for appointment as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, to succeed General Clark. In response to this request, the President of the United States wrote to the Secretary General to nominate General Ralston for consideration as successor to General Clark with the same powers and functions.
In addition to the NATO position, General Ralston will be assigned as Commander in Chief, United States European Command.