Change-of-command ceremony at Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia

From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO:  General Paloméros, we are all grateful that, once again, France has nominated an exceptional officer to lead this important command. Today is not the first time you have taken over from General Abrial. You took over from him three years ago as French Air Force Chief of Staff. So you will know that he has left you a Command that is in very good shape. But that does not mean that he has left you with nothing to do. On the contrary. You, and your new Command, face a broad range of challenges.

We all know how hard it is to find fresh funds for defence under current circumstances. This means that if we want to make our forces more capable, more compatible, and more complementary, then we are going to have to make smarter use of the money we are able to spend on security. At the Chicago summit, we made significant strides in that direction.

One of your first challenges will be to maintain that momentum. With Smart Defence, we are successfully changing the mind-set. Cooperation should be the preferred choice, not the last choice. We must now provide all Allies, as well as partners in certain cases, with the advice, and support, they need to pursue multinational cooperation initiatives. And we must do this while respecting the balance between solidarity and sovereignty.

Second, the Connected Forces Initiative. As we prepare to complete our combat mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, we must ensure we don’t lose our operational lessons, or our operational edge. We need to retain, and improve, our ability to work together across the whole range of potential military tasks.

Training and exercising will play an important part in these efforts. And so will the judicious use of a strengthened NATO Response Force. Simulation and networking will offer new and cost-effective ways of sustaining, and improving, our operational effectiveness. Our Connected Forces Initiative needs to bring all these strands together, and look for other innovative ways of doing what we do.

In sum, General, we look to you to help ensure that Allies’ national and multinational contributions can be brought together – effectively under NATO command and control. So that the Alliance stays fit for purpose and fit for the future.

Excerpt from remarks by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the change of command ceremony Allied Command Transformation.  (photo: NATO)