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Remarks as Delivered by Adm. Michelle Howard at Change of Command

June 7, 2016 at 12:48 PM UTC

Speech as delivered by Admiral Michelle Howard | June 7, 2016 | Naples, Italy

Good morning.  Ambassador Phillips, Ambassador Barber,  Lieutenant General Jelec, Admiral Apostolakis, General Scaparotti, General Rodriguez, Admiral Moran, Vice Chief...General Farina...flag and general officers, distinguished visitors and guests; thank you so much for joining our change of command ceremony.

I am honoured and privileged to assume command of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command, Naples, U.S. Naval Forces Africa, and U.S. Naval Forces Europe. I would like to state my appreciation to Naples, Italy as our host community.  You have treated us like family for over six decades, and your support is a key enabler to our mission success. 

Admiral Ferguson, thank you for your leadership, and thank you and Laure for taking superb care of our military members and their families. Under the leadership of Admiral Ferguson, the alliance and U.S. Naval forces have witnessed changes in the last two years.  From Russia to violent extremists to mass migration, the regions are in a different place than they were in 2014. 

Teams JFC, NAVAF, and NAVEUR you have in response driven change.  You have adjusted military posture and organizations and you have proven flexible and innovative. The maritime combined area of responsibility covers 20 million square nautical miles of ocean, touching three continents, and includes 67% of the earth’s coastline. Naval Forces can operate from the Arctic to the waters off of South Africa.  NATO forces are leading security efforts in Kosovo, and support immigration operations at sea.  

The tasks and scope may sound daunting to mere mortals, but teams JFC, NAVAF, and NAVEUR; you have demonstrated superhero qualities in fulfilling these missions. You have lived and breathed the common values of the rule of law and individual liberty.  Thank you for your work. I pledged to lead you with the same strength, resolve, and readiness that you have demonstrated in the past.  Your work has made my first direction and guidance simple:

STEADY AS SHE GOES.  FULL SPEED AHEAD.

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