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Stavridis Becomes First Admiral to Head NATO Military Operations

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2009 – Navy Adm. James Stavridis today became NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, assuming command of allied command operations from retiring Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock.

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Navy Adm. James Stavridis accepts the NATO flag from Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, signaling his assumption of command of as the alliance’s supreme allied commander for Europe, July 2, 2009. NATO photo

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The change of command, presided over by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, marks the first time in NATO history that a navy admiral assumed the post, which originated in 1951 with Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Stavridis is the 16th American officer to hold the post.

“Today I am lucky enough to find myself standing on the bridge, ready to take the watch, but I know I am not taking the watch alone,” Stavridis said after assuming command.

“With me are over 70,000 shipmates – military and civilian – in three continents from the populated plains and coasts of Europe to the bright blue of the Mediterranean Sea, from the high mountain passes of Afghanistan to the distant Arctic Circle,” Stavridis said.

“You stand in a long line of heroes who stood and delivered across this continent for decades in both war and peace,” the admiral continued. “I honor your service, I pledge my support and loyalty to each of you, and I will continue to strengthen the pillars of our transatlantic bridge as we build new ones. That is my mission, and I will do my best."

Stavridis is responsible to NATO’s highest military authority, its Military Committee, for the overall direction and conduct of NATO military operations. He also serves as commander of U.S. European Command.

(From a Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe news release.)

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Navy Adm. James Stavridis

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Stavridis Assumes Top European Command Post From Craddock

Click photo for screen-resolution imageLeft to right, Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scherrer and Navy Adm. James Stavridis rener honors during a change-of-command ceremony in Mons, Belgium, July 2, 2009. De Hoop Scheffer presided over Stavridis’ assumption of duty as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe from Craddock, who is retiring. NATO photo  
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