From James Stavridis, U.S. European Command: I’m proud to accept this award on behalf of the seven million active and reserve Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who make up the military arm of this grand alliance. Today more than 150,000 of them are engaged in what the British would call “active service” on three continents – in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, the Balkans, and off the coast of Africa on piracy patrol, in Iraq.
They are also deeply engaged in the collective defense of the alliance, training and exercising together throughout Europe and North America. Their efforts create partnerships with nations all around the Mediterranean and in the Arabian Gulf, as well as with more than twenty Asian nations as part of the Partnership for Peace program, begun under the visionary leadership of General Jones.
Looking to the future, the men and women of the alliance are today exploring our role in cyber and missile defense. We are engaged in bringing on line new technologies ranging from unmanned aircraft to advanced command and control networks. And we are seeking to build a true strategic partnership with Russia, as called for in the strategic concept accepted last fall for the 28 nations of the alliance.
NATO is a vibrant alliance, with nearly half of the world’s gross domestic product to draw upon and more importantly a deep dedication to democracy, liberty, freedom of expression, and all the values that make life worth living. It remains part of the core strategic architecture of the United States, and I would argue is among the most successful alliances in world history. . . .
I believe this all reflects a NATO alliance that is a force for good in the world. We are far from perfect, but our collective efforts help create security and bring some measure of stability in a dangerous world. In the sixty years since NATO was formed, I think we have contributed and will continue to do so in important ways. . . .
I accept this award with great thanks not for myself, but on behalf of the operators … the men and women who sail at sea … fly long missions in the air … and patrol dusty streets and over high mountains ashore … all on dangerous operational service. They stand the watch tonight so that we may be safe and secure in our homes, and this is THEIR award, not mine.
Excerpts from speech, "Why NATO Matters," by Admiral. James Stavridis, Commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, after receiving the Distinguished Military Leadership Award from the Atlantic Council of the United States.