News: NATO establishes Allied Land Command in Izmir, Turkey
Story by Lt. Col. Kimberly Rhoades
SIRINYER, Turkey - Adm. James Stavridis, supreme allied commander, Europe, presided over a ceremony today that established NATO’s Allied Land Command. More than 100 distinguished visitors from various NATO countries and commands attended the ceremony held at the General Vecihi Akin Garrison in Sirinyer, Izmir, Turkey.
Adm. Stavridis opened the ceremony by thanking the Turkish government, the Turkish people, and the Turkish Armed Forces. He spoke about the exemplary performance of Turkish military personnel in Afghanistan, Libya, and the Balkans.
He said, “We count on Turkey. Turkey can count on NATO.”
He went on to say that the establishment of the Allied Land Command confirmed the partnership of the 28 NATO countries.
During the ceremony and in a time-honored military tradition Adm. Stavridis passed the Allied Land Command flag to Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges signifying the formal transfer of command authority and responsibility.
After accepting his command flag, Lt. Gen. Hodges thanked Adm. Stavridis for officiating the ceremony.
He also thanked Command Chief Master Sgt. Small, SHAPE’s chief senior enlisted advisor, for his support in establishing the new command.
In Lt. Gen. Hodges’ first speech as the Allied Land Command commander, he stated that the command was, “blessed with exceptionally talented and experienced soldiers from across the alliance. The officers and noncommissioned officers here represent decades of experience in Afghanistan, Libya, and the Balkans.”
Talented and experienced soldiers are exactly what the new command needs. The Allied Land Command is charged with providing expertise in support of allied land forces readiness, competency and standardization; including their evaluation and certification.
It delivers a planning capability in support of higher headquarters and the NATO Force Structure. And, when directed by the SACEUR provides the core of the headquarters responsible for the conduct of land operations and the synchronization of land forces command and control in accordance with the alliance’s level of ambition.
The Allied Land Command is the result of the decision made during the Lisbon Conference in 2010 to transform the NATO command and force structures. The new command structure is designed to be more efficient and effective. The Alliance will maintain their levels of ambition. The command structure will consolidate eleven commands into six, including two Joint Force Commands, Air Command, Land Command, Maritime Command, and a Communication and Information Systems Group. Likewise, the force structure will be optimized from 13,000 to 8,800 military personnel.
This summer the Land Command will reach its initial operating capability and will have soldiers from 23 NATO nations and six partner nations.
Lt. Gen. Hodges said, “This represents what is best about NATO … a common purpose and sense of duty which makes us unbeatable when we stand together.”
Lt. Gen. Hodges’ final comment to the audience was, “Our motto is ‘For the Soldier.’ This headquarters is going to work every single day to ensure that the young soldiers, men and women, who fill our ranks have the best possible chance to accomplish their mission and to be protected while doing it. All that we will do is ‘For the Soldier’.”