SACEUR: ‘When we are connected, we are stronger’

"We must continue to focus on creating security in this turbulent world"

From James Stavridis, Allied Command Operations:  As I wrap up, I am filled with gratitude. It was a profound honour to be part of a team of extraordinary people who accomplish so much and take on so many challenges. They inspire me every day with their enthusiasm, initiative, creativity, pride and loyalty.

I say "Thank You" to each and every one of our team members and their family members for their incredible work and sacrifice — nearly 100,000 on the European command team, and many more on the NATO side. 

As I conclude my military career and look back over 37 years I am awed by the changes. When I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1976, the Cold War dominated everything. Today’s world is a safer world, as the possibility of global conflict and an exchange of nuclear weapons is now greatly reduced. That’s the good news.

On the other hand, we live in a vastly more complex world in which weapons of mass destruction are proliferating, trafficking moves weapons, narcotics, victims of human smuggling, cash, and terrorists across our borders and through the challenged global commons. We must continue to focus on creating security in this turbulent world.

So the fundamental question is, "How do we best create security in this complex 21st century?"

What I take away from my 37 years is that, in the end, we will not fully deliver security from the barrel of a gun.

Certainly, we will very much need our guns at times. There will be moments when we must reach for and apply lethal force; but to deliver security broadly in this 21st century, we need international cooperation, we need inter-agency cooperation, and we need private-public cooperation.

Then we’ve got to put it all together with effective strategic communication. We’ve got to use the social networks to move a message that says our values matter: democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press. Those values matter. We have to be prepared to defend them, but to deliver them we have to have this international, inter-agency, private-public strategic communication consortium. That’s how we’ll deliver security in the 21st century. . . .

Despite all the challenges for NATO, I believe in the Alliance. NATO is a force for good in the world. And it is the most powerful alliance in the world’s history: over 50% of the world’s GDP from only 28 nations; 3 million men and women on active duty; 24,000 military aircraft; 800 ocean-going ships; 50 AWACS; on and on. The Alliance remains vitally connected to all the sources of security across the globe. It has great power, and therefore great responsibility.

We are connected through this Alliance. And when we are connected, we are stronger; and that allows us to remain…Stronger Together. 

Excerpts from "At Voyage’s End, Some Final Thoughts…" by Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; Commander, US European Command.  (photo: Today’s Zaman)

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