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American Forces Press Service

Craddock Takes Reins of U.S. European Command

By Tech. Sgt. Devin L. Fisher, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

STUTTGART, Germany, Dec. 4, 2006 – Army Gen. John Craddock took the reins of U.S. European Command during a change of command ceremony at Patch Barracks here today.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England presided over the ceremony that transferred command to Craddock from Marine Gen. James L. Jones, who served as the EUCOM commander since Jan. 16, 2003.

“U.S. European Command remains in strong capable hands. Our nation is blessed to have a person of (Craddock’s) caliber and experience to take on this vital mantle of leadership,” England said. He added that the general’s 13 years of prior assignments in Europe will prove “invaluable” in this position.

The EUCOM commander's responsibility spans 92 nations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and he commands five U.S. components: U.S. Army, Europe; U.S. Navy, Europe; U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Marine Forces, Europe; and Special Operations Command, Europe.

Craddock, who is the 14th EUCOM commander, ensured the European Command staff that their hard work has been noticed. “Your reputation for excellence and your extraordinary competence have been and continue to be an inspiration for all,” Craddock said. “Day in and day out you provide an example of sterling professionalism to more than 90 countries.”

He said he is honored and humbled to join the European Command team. “My pledge to you is to give you full measure of effort, 100 percent every day, and to lead by example from the front.”

Craddock, who previously served as the commander of U.S. Southern Command, with headquarters in Miami, also will serve as the NATO supreme allied commander for Europe following a Dec. 7 change-of-command ceremony in Mons, Belgium.

“I won’t forget that European Command and its components have formed the backbone of the North Atlantic Alliance,” Craddock said. “Make no mistake, we will continue to work with our partners to protect the United States and our allies in the war on terrorism while at the same time laying the foundation for peace and prosperity.”

England said Jones’ extraordinary accomplishments and successes throughout his 40-year military career will have a lasting effect and influence on the future of NATO, European Command, the Marine Corps and the countries within the European Command theater.

“Jones is a magnificent leader and a warrior statesman in the mold of the famous George C. Marshall, but most of all he is a Marine’s Marine,” England said.

“Under his leadership, (European Command) has had extraordinary success in hardcore warfighting, building and strengthening partnerships from the Balkans to the countries of Africa to Iraq and Afghanistan, to the countries of the former Soviet Union, while simultaneously transforming the command itself, moving towards a more expeditionary posture,” he continued. “All these efforts directly support the strategic vision of our nation and of our friends and allies for the transformation necessary to meet the security challenges of the 21st century.”

The deputy defense secretary also thanked the men and women of European Command for their service. “(You) stand at the front lines of the great struggle for freedom,” England said. “Thank you for your dedication, courage, service and sacrifice … and for everything you do every day to leave a better world for our children and our grandchildren.”

Jones echoed the praise. “You have been magnificent,” he said. “You have performed during the most difficult and challenging time of change. You have gone through transformation of not only capabilities, but indeed of philosophy -- one that moves towards regional understanding of the 92-country area of responsibility that we’ve been privileged to participate in.”

Jones said that in addition to reaffirming the command’s role to fight and win when required, the European Command staff has added equal importance to the value of deterrence and prevention of potential conflict and confirming the command’s commitment to help emerging democracies reach their full potential.

The general praised each of European Command’s components and the National Guard for their contribution to the “great team effort.”

Jones will retire with more than 40 years of military service after he passes his NATO command to Craddock.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff created EUCOM in 1952 to facilitate American NATO obligations by providing U.S. combat forces for the defense of Europe. The European Command's mission is to support and achieve U.S. interests and objectives throughout 92 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and portions of the Middle East. The command performs a variety of functions including planning for and conducting contingency operations such as noncombatant evacuations and humanitarian relief operations; providing combat-ready forces to both Allied Command Europe and other U.S. unified commands, and conducting intelligence activities and security assistance.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Devin L. Fisher is assigned to U.S. European Command Public Affairs.)

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