USA

US Air Force General Sworn In As NATO Commander

General Tod Wolters replaces General Curtis Scaparrotti in the role as one of the alliance's most senior leaders.

A change of command has taken place at NATO’s European headquarters in Belgium.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg led proceedings as US General Curtis Scaparrotti handed over office to US Air Force General Tod Wolters after three years in charge.

The Supreme Allied Commander Europe is responsible for NATO’s global military operations - one of the alliance’s two strategic command positions.

General Scaparrotti - who’s now retiring - was honoured for his work improving readiness amid a multitude of operational challenges.

He paid tribute to those who have supported him – and praised personnel for their efforts in light of an ongoing complex security situation.

"Over the past three years, the evolution of challenges in our complex security environment have been remarkable.

"And we should expect this period of change and transition to continue, fuelled by the ambitions of our challengers. Challengers whose intent it is to test the values and the bonds to hold us together," he said.

The Pentagon first announced the replacement for the role in March, and held a ceremony at US European Command in Stuttgart on Thursday.

General Tod Wolters has spent the last few years as commander of US Air forces in Europe and Africa and Allied Air Command – and has been overseeing US airpower across 104 countries.

"NATO's speed and posture continue on a positive trajectory. And allied command operations will work to sustain our focused approach to relationships, readiness, transparency, and alignment," he said at the ceremony.  

The handover was symbolised by an exchange of the NATO colours, passing from one commander to the next - the start of a new era, with new challenges.