NATO inaugurates new HQ for allied special forces

Official Ribbon Cutting at NSHQ

From John Vandiver, Stars & Stripes:  NATO’s special operations community took up residence Wednesday in a new headquarters in Mons, Belgium, a $19 million facility expected to bolster how special forces from across the alliance plan for missions from Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa.

“I look for NATO Special Operations Headquarters to be the centerpiece of our ability to conduct special operations in this 21st century,” said Adm. James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, according to comments provided by his Public Affairs office during the official opening of the headquarters. “You will be the flagship operation. . . .”

During Wednesday’s opening ceremony, which also was attended by NATO Special Operations Headquarters commander Lt. Gen. Frank Kisner, Stavridis said the headquarters should serve as a hub for ideas.

“To achieve security in the 21st century, we have to connect. We must connect defense, diplomacy, development and law enforcement … all the agencies of government,” Stavridis said. “This must be a venue for ideas about what we use to accomplish our missions.”

From Slobodan Lekic, AP:  Elite units are much cheaper and easier to deploy than conventional forces that require armour, artillery and logistical support. Although they are much fewer in number, commandos often have a disproportionally large effect on the enemy.

"One of the real comparative advantages of special forces is bang for the buck," Stavridis told The Associated Press. "They are very cost-effective because it is a relatively small number of people who create enormous effect. . . ."

The new NATO Special Operations Forces Headquarters, which replaces a small building in the alliance’s military compound in this southern Belgian town, aims to preserve the capabilities developed by NATO’s special forces in Afghanistan, where national contingents have been operating together throughout the war. . . .

So far 26 of NATO’s 28 members have declared their intention to participate in the new command, along with three neutral nations: Austria, Finland and Sweden. The only NATO countries not participating are Luxembourg, which doesn’t have a commando force, and Iceland, which doesn’t have an army.

Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Switzerland have been invited to join.  (photo: NATO)

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