From E-3A Component Public affairs
Command of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force and of the NATO E-3A Component both changed hands in a combined ceremony on July 26 at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen.
The Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Adm. James Stavridis, presided over the ceremony.
"The NATO AWACS has been extraordinary in fulfilling its missions,” explained Admiral Stavridis during his opening remarks. "You embody what it's all about.”
The commander of the NAEW&C Force, Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Schmidt, U.S. Air Force, has left his position as Force Commander and his successor is Maj. Gen. Jochen Both, German Air Force. Maj. Gen. Both assumed the AWACS Force Command headquarters post. Force Command is co-located with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe at Mons, Belgium.
"It is first and foremost a great honor for me to stand here in front of the proud men and women of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force,” said General Both. "And it is also a great pleasure to assume this extraordinary command. To command the proud soldiers and members of a first class team is surely the most beautiful and satisfying task on can ask for.”
The general added, "I take the corresponding responsibilities with great appreciation. I am proud to be the command of such a fine team and I am very much looking forward to working with all of you.”
The E-3A Component Commander Brig. Gen. Burkhard Pototzky has relinquished and his successor is Brig. Gen. Andrew Mueller, U.S. Air Force, assumed command of the in Geilenkirchen based multinational flying unit.
"It is truly a privilege for me to return to Geilenkirchen to lead the NATO AWACS E-3A Component,” said General Mueller. "From the moment I drove through the gate, I could sense the Component is operating at 100 percent. As your Component commander, I look forward to sustaining this proud tradition of excellence that has been the pillar of this one of a kind multi-national organization over the last 30 years.”
General Mueller added, "I know first hand the outstanding capabilities the NATO E-3A brings to the NATO commanders as they carry out the missions of the alliance. I will strive to improve our ability to continue to deliver this capability in a reliable manner.”
The NATO AWACS Force consists of two Components, the E-3A Component in Geilenkirchen and the Royal Air Force's E-3D Component at Waddington, U.K. The E-3D is composed entirely of British personnel, whole the E-3A Component is NATO's multinational flying unit, with international aircrews from 16 nations.
About 2,900 military and civilian personnel work at the Component in Geilenkirchen. The Component also operates three forward operating bases in Italy, Turkey and Greece and one forward operating location in Norway.