Gen. James Jones Becomes First Marine EUCOM Commander; SACEUR Title to Follow
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
STUTTGART, Germany, Jan. 16, 2003 U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones today became the first Marine to assume command of U.S. European Command here.
The position is dual-hatted. Jones will become NATO's supreme allied commander Europe in a change of command ceremony Jan. 17 in Mons, Belgium.
The general was selected "because he's Jim Jones, not because he wore a particular uniform," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz said at a press conference after the change of command ceremony at Patch Barracks. Having Jones at the helm, he said, means having a man who "distinguished himself for his ability to think jointly - and that's what we've got to do in the future."
Jones passed his responsibilities as Corps commandant to Gen. Michael Hagee in a Jan. 13 ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. For his part, Jones said, he never expected to continue his career in this capacity.
"Never in my wildest dreams or expectations did I think I would be standing before you today," he told reporters. "The tradition is that commandants drift softly and gently into the night. I'm profoundly grateful that my country saw fit to ask me to stay on active duty, especially to come back to European Command and a continent that I have so much affection for and a continent where my values and experiences were shaped as a young person."
Jones recounted his "deep roots in Europe": His family moved to Europe in 1947 when he was 3 and he lived there until he was 18. After studying at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he joined the Marine Corps. From 1992 to 1994, he served as deputy J-3 for operations at European Command.
Jones noted the Marines have "an expeditionary mindset."
"We're trained to do as much as we can with as little as we get," he said. "We don't generally try to stay in one place too long. I will try to make an exception. I'm very happy to be here, and I would like to stay here for a considerably longer period of time than Marines are accustomed to."
Turning to the future in his dual-hat role, Jones noted that the United States is not alone in the war against terrorism. "This is an attack on all of us," he said. "It is complex. It is multifaceted, and it involves not just the military and our collective nations, but all forms of other agencies as well.
"European Command remains the linchpin of our nation's expression of solidarity with our European friends. I believe that history has obviously shown that for the last 50-plus years, (NATO) has played an important role in this part of the world. With NATO enlargement upon us, we are now poised to write the chapter for the next 50 years."
U.S. engagement with friends in Europe, Jones said, is timeless and necessary both to America and the collective security of the alliance. "I look forward to serving in this capacity, and I'm very happy to be back on German soil today."
During the change of command ceremony, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed Jones the EUCOM flag from Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, the departing commander. He told the guests that one of Ralston's many accomplishments was helping the U.S. military forge a new relationship with Russia. He also saluted Ralston for working throughout his career to improve conditions for service members.
"For 37 years, Joe Ralston has led with tremendous intelligence, industry, integrity," Wolfowitz said in his salute. He praised the retiring general for his diplomatic skills, which were instrumental in bringing the new democracies of Central Europe into the NATO fold.
"Men and women of U.S. European Command, I am extremely humbled and proud to serve with you," Jones said in his address to the command. "We will not lack for important things to do."