German Army Major General Reinhard Wolski assumed command of NATO's Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) today in a Change of Command Ceremony, replacing German Army Major General Erhard Buehler who has served as the Centre's Commander since 25 June 2013.
Many dignitaries, both civilian and military, as well as the JWC's international staff and family members gathered at the Centre's Harald Hårfagre Auditorium in Jåttå, Stavanger, for the mid-morning ceremony, presided over by French Air Force General Jean-Paul Paloméros, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), based at Norfolk, Virginia, United States.
"Today, we transfer command responsibility from one outstanding leader to another and recognize the accomplishments of the men and women of the Joint Warfare Centre," SACT said.
After welcoming JWC's guests of honour and praising Norway's exceptional support to the Centre, SACT highlighted the importance of cooperation with Allies and Partners in Europe. He said: "The Joint Warfare Centre is key in delivering an effective operational preparation for NATO forces and Partners and in maintaining the high level of readiness, responsiveness and interoperability that we need."
"This Change of Command represents an excellent opportunity for me to thank all the personnel serving in JWC for their achievements," he added. "Major General Buehler, Erhard, I am really proud and truly grateful for the way you have led this Centre during the last 15 months, in full synergy with ACT's staff and with your two fellow Joint Commanders from the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) and the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC). Understanding my priorities for NATO's Transformation, you have put the JWC at the forefront for the improved readiness and interoperability."
SACT then turned to his successor, Major General Reinhard Wolski, with words of encouragement and lauded his career at the operational edge.
"Major General Wolski, both your operational experience in NATO missions and your past responsibilities in defining policies, doctrine and training for the German forces will make you, with no doubt, an invaluable asset for JWC and for ACT," General Jean-Paul Paloméros said, adding: "As stated in the declaration from the Wales Summit, the Heads of State and Government have provided the Alliance with the guidance to implement a Readiness Action Plan. It will require the enhancement of our exercise programme and to go further in terms of development and experimentation of new concepts, technologies as well as Modelling and Simulation. I am completely confident that JWC, under your leadership, will respond to the challenge, as it has done magnificently up to now. I look very much forward to working with you in this new and exciting professional endeavour. You have my full confidence."
Major General Erhard Buehler is nominated to be Head Planning Division in the German Ministry of Defence and will be promoted to Lieutenant General. "When I finally leave today, I do so with many fond memories of the great men and women who are part of this superb organization," Major General Buehler said. "I was proud to lead such an important part of ACT and while my time with you is cut short, it was a tour I will never forget."
During his remarks, Major General Buehler highlighted the changing security environment, the need for NATO's high-readiness, responsiveness and resilience in response to broad range of threats and instability on its periphery as well as the impact on JWC. He said: "You have many challenges ahead of you as NATO shifts its focus from an operational stance to one of training and readiness. JWC plays a key role in this. And you will be challenged even more than you have been in the past. The NATO Summit has since concluded and there is no doubt in my mind that many issues will directly affect you. Our internal optimization to become more efficient and to maintain the quality of our deliveries must continue, so that JWC can adapt to the growing demand in 2015 and beyond."
With that, Major General Buehler expressed his gratitude towards JWC's multinational staff for their competence and loyalty and said: "I wish all of you a successful future that is in accordance with the JWC's motto: One Team. Training NATO. Transforming Warfare. Securing the Alliance. All the best. God bless you all."
In his first formal address to the JWC staff, Major General Reinhard Wolski said he was looking forward to continuing JWC's critical efforts in transforming and developing the Alliance. Major General Wolski said: "My dear colleagues, comrades in arms, women and men of the Joint Warfare Centre: I am truly impressed with your professionalism and responsiveness when it comes to new missions and requirements --- I will be proud to serve with you as well as to be part of the larger JWC family and community, together with my wife."
"During my in-processing and familiarization briefs, which will continue, I already got an impression about the demanding and ambitious training and exercise cycle we are pursuing here," Major General Wolski noted. "Certainly, NATO made clear at the Wales Summit what preparation measures are required to cope with the current and future challenges. And, certainly ACT will provide us here at JWC with the necessary guidance of training and education demands for the future. General Paloméros, I would like to extend my sincere thanks for your trust in me and your encouragement today. I will make sure that the re-organization implementation and the cultural development of the JWC continues on the path which has been endorsed by you and following your guidance. General Buehler, thank you for your outstanding help and advice during our left seat/right seat training. I admire how you commanded the JWC, especially how you instigated the re-organization and the cultural development process and I wish you all the success required in your new assignment in Berlin."
Commending Norway's outstanding support to the JWC, Major General Wolski said: "I am very grateful to Norway supporting our HQ here in Stavanger in such an outstanding manner --- Norway makes our life so easy in these somewhat demanding times --- thank you so much for your excellent host nation support."
After the completion of the ceremony, Major General Wolski hosted a reception to mark the occasion.
During the reception, Royal Norwegian Navy Rear Admiral Haakon Tronstad from the Norwegian Joint Operational HQ in Bodo presented a plaque to Major General Buehler and praised him for his leadership accomplishments at the helm of JWC. He also commended on the robust relationship they share with the JWC and highlighted future opportunities for both parties. "We greatly appreciate the cooperation with the JWC," he said, adding: "We have every confidence that this cooperation will lead to further mutual benefits so that we can develop relevant capabilities for both organizations."
Major General Reinhard Wolski is the seventh Flag Officer to hold the prestigious position of Commander Joint Warfare Centre.
A native of Hanover, Germany, Major General Wolski previously held various leadership roles in national units as well as HQ SFOR (Butmir, Sarajevo) and HQ KFOR (Film City, Pristina, Kosovo). In May 2013, he deployed to Afghanistan as HQ ISAF Deputy Chief of Staff Resources. He was promoted to Major General on July 2013 in Mazar-i- Sharif, Afghanistan.
Major General Wolski is married to Ingrid and they have a son and a daughter.
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