July 16, 2007 - Lieutenant General Wolfgang Korte, German Army, assumed command of the NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre during a change of command ceremony, which took place on July 13, 11.00 a.m. at the Ulsnes Training Facility. During the ceremony, JWC international staff and family members also bid farewell to United Kingdom Royal Air Force Air Marshal Peter B. Walker, who served as the Centre’s Director for two years since taking up his post February 3, 2005.
Many civilian and military authorities as well as local dignitaries from Stavanger region attended the Change of Command ceremony. U.S. Air Force General Lance L. Smith, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, was the presiding officer of the ceremony.
The ceremony started with the arrival of the marching color guard representing the NATO command flags and the Norwegian flag. General Smith opened the ceremony commenting on how an event like this was such a bittersweet occasion, where the international staff and family gathered to say farewell to one exceptional leader, Air Marshal Walker, and welcomed another, Lieutenant General Korte. "Air Marshal Walker's leadership has been a driving force in this shift from a cold-war postured Alliance to a more flexible and adaptable fighting force, better able to contribute to the defence of all member nations whether it be Article 5 or the fight against terrorism," General Smith said.
In his last formal address, Air Marshal Walker thanked JWC's international staff for their generosity and Norway as the host nation. "For Norway...You have been superb hosts. Lynda and I felt very settled here. We have enjoyed it enormously, and we will be sorry to leave," he said. General Smith presented Air Marshal Walker with a NATO Meritorious Service Medal and Legion of Merit while serving as a member of ACT.
General Smith went on to highlight Lieutenant General Korte's background, which has uniquely prepared him to lead the Joint Warfare Centre into the future. "We could not have found a more capable leader to guide this critical institution at a time of such great change in the Alliance. I know General Korte will keep the Joint Warfare Centre on the leading edge of transformation, and continue to support the warfighter as they prepare for the difficult and dangerous challenges they face," he stated. "Welcome aboard."
During his address, Lieutenant General Korte eloquently stressed the importance of training, education and experimentation. "The soldiers of our Alliance and Partners are doing their duty in almost all crisis areas of the world. Day by day they risk their lives and health for their countries and the values they are standing for. All of us here, from Commander down to the youngest soldier, do understand that to support those of us who go out in harms way have to be, and indeed are, our highest priority. That is not only to provide the necessary equipment, state of the art weapons and everything else they need to stand the challenges, it is also to provide the best preparation they can get before they go on a mission, the best and most comprehensive training possible, from individual training and education at tactical level up to complex exercises and mission rehearsals on operational level," he said.
In reflecting upon his new position as the JWC Director, Lieutenant General Korte commented that much has been achieved, adding, "I am convinced that with the support of the Joint Warfare Centre team, we will be able to continue where Air Marshal Walker has handed this responsibility over to me and we will add our share to the further development of a successful Alliance."