General Lange signs document at STRIKFORNATO Signing Ceremony at SHAPE. Pictures by Sgt Peter Buitenhuis - RNLAF. all Copyright NATO.
A signing ceremony took place at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) today, 24 April, in honour of Portugal joining Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO).
General Manfred Lange, SHAPE Chief of Staff (COS) took part in the Signing Ceremony of STRIKFORNATO legal documents, which amended the STRIKFORNATO Memorandum of Understanding, adding Portugal to the current 10 nations. STRIKFORNATO is NATO's premier Maritime Battlestaff and the Alliance's primary link for integrating US Maritime Forces into NATO operations.
General Lange welcomed the assembled signatories and guests, stating that the signing represents "a significant milestone because it is the first major event which signifies the implementation of NATO Reform. I'm certain that (the signing) has the attention of high levels of government throughout all 28 Nations – not just the 11 Nations that will be part of STRIKFORNATO.”
STRIKFORNATO's move from Naples to Lisbon reflects the new NATO Command Structure, with its changed geographic footprint, announced in June last year at NATO's Lisbon Summit.
Rear Admiral Russell Harding, GBR N, Deputy Commander for STRIKFORNATO, noted "It has been a complex process, with more than a few difficulties, but we got through them.” He commended all involved for the speed with which changes were achieved, and the good will required to succeed.
Major General Afonso Revez, the Portuguese National Military Representative at SHAPE, signed on behalf of Portugal.
"Being an old maritime nation, with a history long connected to the oceans,” he said. "It is only natural that Portugal joins this naval force.” He stressed that the presence at the ceremony of H. E. Ambassador Joao Gomes, Portugal's Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council, reflects the importance Portugal gives to this moment.
Managed by a Memorandum of Understanding, STRIKFORNATO is a rapidly deployable, Maritime Headquarters that provides scalable Command and Control across the full spectrum of Alliance fundamental security tasks.