Thank you, Admiral Mullen. I’m pleased to see so many representatives of our NATO allies here today, especially those from our host, the Federal Republic of Germany.
We are here to show our appreciation for and bid farewell to one fine officer, to welcome
another, and to take stock of the accomplishments and important work of this historic command.
I also would like to start by acknowledging the Craddock family – his granddaughter Addy, his son Zachary, and, of course, his wife Linda. We just heard Admiral Mullen speak about some of Linda’s work in this command, and a short while ago Admiral Mullen presented her with an award for her service. Having attended and spoken at a number of these ceremonies since taking this post, I continue to be amazed at the sacrifices military spouses make over the course of their loved one’s career. Linda, thank you for all you have done – for the men and women of this command, and for your country.
Today, General Craddock brings to a close nearly 40 years of exemplary service. In many ways it is appropriate that we gather at this post, in a country where John spent so much of his time in uniform keeping the peace as a U.S. Army armor officer. In fact, he has been posted in Germany at some point in each of those four decades – not that we are trying to date him in any way.
The trajectory of General Craddock’s career, in many respects, tracks some of the most important missions the United States military has undertaken over the past two generations.
• As commander of an armor battalion in Operation Desert Storm, John spearheaded the 24th Infantry Division’s famed “left hook” into Iraq;
• He led the first U.S. forces deployed into Kosovo as commander of Task Force Falcon, which included the delicate task of patrolling with Russian troops;
• He would go on to command the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division, the legendary “Big Red One;” and
• Of course, he led two combatant commands on two different continents through a period of transition and transformation.
His tenure since taking command here at EUCOM and at NATO has been one of steady professionalism and forward-thinking leadership during a time of great consequence for the United States and our allies and partners in Europe. General Craddock was well-positioned by his experience and skill to oversee the changes necessary to modernize these organizations’ thinking, planning, and ways of doing business. Under his leadership:
• NATO has become a more expeditionary force able to deploy and conduct missions far from its traditional borders;
• We’ve seen an expansion of NATO’s role in combating non-traditional security threats, such as narco-trafficking and the proliferation of deadly weapons;
• The Alliance welcomed in two new members – Albania and Croatia – and managed a smooth transition from UN to EU management in Kosovo; and
• The Alliance reformed its command structure and re-designed the NATO Response Force.
During General Craddock’s tenure here at EUCOM:
• A new Africa Command was stood up, transferring 120 missions, activities, programs, and exercises;
• The international community established a long-term counter-piracy operation to defeat a force of instability that threatens the freedom of the seas;
• Operation Assured Delivery sent more than two million pounds of humanitarian assistance to the Republic of Georgia; and
• Over the last two years, 36 countries in the EUCOM area of responsibility have increased their assistance to the international military effort in Afghanistan.
John also guided the development of the EUCOM Strategy for Active Security, which recognizes that a small investment of resources and effort now to deal with festering problems before they become crises can help avert the need to expend greater blood and treasure later. General Craddock accomplished all this while having nearly half of EUCOM’s forces deployed in direct support of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I mentioned earlier that John had spent much of his army career in this country and in this command. Through solidarity and steadfastness of purpose – and the service and dedication of millions of allied men and women in uniform like John Craddock – that famous gap to our east was never breached. Today, the transatlantic alliance faces new challenges, and new stresses and strains, that will test our credibility, resolve, and shared purpose. An Alliance that never fired a shot during four decades of the Cold War now has thousands of troops deployed thousands of miles from the heart of Europe, many coming under fire as we stand here today.
Overcoming the daunting, multi-faceted security challenges of this dangerous new century will require a talented and innovative leader to build on General Craddock’s achievements. We are fortunate to have one in Admiral James Stavridis, who, once again, is taking the proverbial baton from General Craddock as he did nearly three years ago at Southern Command.
Admiral Stavridis is, of course, the first navy officer to lead EUCOM and become SACEUR – a symbol of both how much this alliance has changed since the end of the Cold War, and how joint our militaries are, and must continue to become. Jim Stavridis is a true sailor-scholar, whose strategic vision and diplomatic expertise make him the leader we need at this command at such a critical juncture in the history of the transatlantic alliance.
This year, the sixtieth anniversary of the NATO Alliance, offers an opportunity to step back and take stock of all that we have been through: the history we share, the challenges we have endured, and the great sacrifices we have borne together. Our nations are again engaged in a war whose outcome and duration is uncertain. But I am confident we will summon the will and the courage to do what we must in Afghanistan. I am confident that Admiral Stravidis will lead our brave men and women with honor and do right by them, just as General Craddock has over these past three years.
Thank you very much.