October 1, 2012 Amaani Lyle / American Forces Press Service – defpro.com
NORFOLK, Va. | Supreme Allied Command Transformation Commander Gen. Stéphane Abrial of the French Air Force passed his command Sept. 28 to fellow French airman Gen. Jean-Paul Paloméros, marking only the second time that a non-U.S. officer has been permanently assigned to one of NATO’s two Supreme Allied Commands.
Abrial had served as ACT’s Norfolk-based commander since 2009.
Paloméros said he already feels welcome and is ready to take on the responsibilities of his new position. “George Washington had a coalition of victory that will resonate throughout history,” Paloméros said. “Almost one year ago, military operations [in] Libya demonstrated the strength of our alliance and the continuing importance of coalitions -- in this case, one led by NATO with the active participation of partner nations.”
NATO will continue to evolve to face ever-changing threats, he said. “Reaching our destination requires enduring commitment … and working together,” Paloméros said. “I’m very proud to take on my full share of this collective effort.”
As the only NATO headquarters in the United States, the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation preserves the peace, security and territorial integrity of alliance military forces, structures, capabilities and doctrine. Speakers at today’s change of command ceremony included Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who presented Abrial with the NATO Meritorious Service Medal.
Rasmussen used the event to underscore the importance that the command plays in maintaining the momentum of the NATO mission in Afghanistan especially as the alliance moves toward the end of the operation there in 2014. “Training and exercising will play an important part in these efforts,” he said. “Simulation and networking will offer cost effective ways of sustaining and improving operational [tasks].”
In his departing remarks to Rasmussen, Abrial said NATO’s combat effectiveness is a product of the times and central to ACT’s work. “Your exceptional foresight in launching such important initiatives as … Connected Forces has been critical in placing ACT squarely at the service of NATO,” Abrial said. “ACT is a place where NATO has decided to bring together strategic thinking … [and] cost-effective capabilities -- this consolidation gives us the extraordinary advantage of having an all-encompassing, cross-functional vision.”
Paloméros echoed those remarks. “We shape our forces … to maintain the face of transformation for the future of our armed forces,” he said.
Paloméros drew from French author Antoine de St. Exupéry to relate his vision.
“Quant à l'avenir, votre tâche n'est pas de prévoir, mais le permettre,” he said. “As for the future, your task is not to foresee but to enable it.”