From Philip Breedlove, EUCOM:  I had the honor of presiding over the NATO Special Forces Headquarters change of command, from Lieutenant General Frank Kisner to Vice Admiral Sean Pybus , who I’m certain will continue the tradition of leadership excellence there. These "quiet professionals” provide unique current and emerging capabilities that enable our team to respond rapidly and precisely in ways no one else can.

The NSHQ has provided operational support for more than 2,200 allied and partner special operations service members operating in Afghanistan under our ISAF mission. They have also provided SOF expertise to other NATO operations like Unified Protector in Libya, Ocean Shield off the Horn of Africa and Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean Sea.

I would argue the success of these operations, and future operations is due in large part to the vision and vitality inherent in the NATO SOF Training and Education Program. This initiative is the centrepiece of building and sustaining Allied and partner SOF interoperability with over 3,500 SOF personnel from 34 nations graduating from 26 courses that span the spectrum of special operations capabilities. . . .

Additionally, SOCEUR continues to focus on expanding theater-wide SOF capabilities in a manner that "thickens our lines” by training, developing, and enabling European SOF Allies and partners to deploy to Afghanistan as part of Combined Special Operations Task Force 10 (CSOTF-10), which serves under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

The Task Force is led by the only US SOF serving under NATO operational control, and includes SOF from eight European allies and partners: Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. In addition, the CSOTF controls multiple international Task Units operating across 9 different provinces and having profound effects on enabling the Afghans to assume full responsibility for their national security. . . .

Coalitions remain the core method of operating for SOF and are essential for future international military operations.

As our military teams across the alliance find more efficient and effective ways of providing the right forces at the right place and at the right time we will increasingly look to our special operators to get the job done. And from what I have seen thus far, our quiet professionals in NATO and EUCOM are exactly the right people to meet this challenge. They are a special breed and I’m grateful for what they bring to our team.

USAF General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe & Commander, U.S. European Command.  (photo: EUCOM)