From James Stavridis, Allied Command Operations: A few of the accomplishments of this great Alliance while I was lucky enough to be on the team :
· Afghanistan – Our top mission, with well over 100,000 troops throughout the four years. Watch the movie; don’t just look at the snap shots. Afghan Security Forces are nearly fully in the lead – 90% of Afghans are now protected by their own security forces as opposed to virtually none four years ago. Improvement across the spectrum of activity: Education (8 million children in school, 4 million girls), Connectivity (16 million cell phones), Health Care (65% now have access), Economy (8% growth annually and the promise of $2 Trillion in strategic minerals). Responsibility in Afghan hands (350,000 security forces trained by the coalition) but partners across the globe standing strong and committed to support. Afghanistan is now connected to the strength of the Alliance and partners around the world.
· Libya: Fastest deployment in the history of NATO. Incredible teamwork in the service of the people of Libya at the specific request of the United Nations Security Council. Evidence of the positive and powerful reach of NATO.
· Balkans and Kosovo – Kept the peace in our mission to help maintain a "safe and secure environment" and "freedom of movement;" and made the space for the political process to work. Agreement now signed. Future looks more promising than ever as governments pursue EU membership. We’ve come an amazing distance from the disasters and horrors of the previous decade.
· Piracy off the coast of Africa – Strong success. Down more than 35% in past 5 years, down 75% since 2011. Opening the passages, making the global commons safer, underpinning economic growth that leads to greater security for all. Strengthening the connections of global trade.
· NATO Bureaucracy / Command Structure Reduction – Economies/Efficiencies. From 11 major Headquarters to only 6. Streamlining, in stride with business world. More agile, more effective. Responsive to economic realities, leveraging technology for efficiency. Clean alignment – Land, Sea or in the Air responsibility is clear. Connected internally and externally for better situation awareness and agility.
Excerpts from "At Voyage’s End, Some Final Thoughts…" by Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; Commander, US European Command. (photo: HNLMS Rotterdam)