Brunssum, Netherlands – Today, the 50th Anniversary of a NATO Headquarters hosted by the town of Brunssum was celebrated. Both military and civilian personnel of Allied Headquarters Joint Force Command Brunssum, joined by veterans from the local area, donned their best uniforms and attire to participate in a military parade conducted in the town centre. To underline the gravity of the occasion and the strong bond of friendship that exists between JFC Brunssum, the town, the province of Limburg and the host nation, the following VVIPs were in attendance:
His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands;
Ms Rose Gottemoeller (NATO Deputy Secretary General (DSG));
Mrs Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (Netherlands Minister of Defence (NLD MoD));
General Curtis M. Scaparrotti (Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR));
Mr Theo Bovens (King's Commissioner and Governor of Limburg).
The parade and reception were jointly hosted by the Commander JFC Brunssum, General Salvatore Farina, and the Mayor of Brunssum, Mr Luc Winants. Following an inspection of the parade by General Scaparrotti the Mayor, three winners of a young persons' regional debating contest, the Dutch Minister of Defence, the NATO Deputy Secretary General, SACEUR and Commander JFC Brunssum each delivered short speeches to those on parade and the on-looking public. The parade concluded with a fly-past of Belgian F-16s.
Shortly thereafter the Mayor, Governor, DSG, Chairman NATO Military Committee (General Petr Pavel), SACEUR and General Farina jointly unveiled a bronze artwork by the renowned Dutch artist, Harald Vlugt, surrounding a waterfall that connects the town square (the Lindeplein) to a lake in the adjacent Vijverpark. Twenty-eight trout have been painstakingly etched into the bronze representing the twenty-eight members of NATO who, just like the trout, often swim against the current to achieve their goal.
Historical Record: The original predecessor of the headquarters now called Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum was established in 1953 at the Palace of Fontainebleau, France; it's title was Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT). In 1966 President de Gaulle announced his government's intention to withdraw from the military structure of NATO and that Allied headquarters based on French soil were to leave the country within one year. Thus, NATO Headquarters moved from Paris to Brussels (Belgium); SHAPE (now called Allied Command Operations) moved from Paris to Mons (Belgium); and AFCENT moved from Fontainebleau to Brunssum (Netherlands). On 01 June 1967 the official inauguration ceremony of AFCENT at Brunssum was conducted in the presence of the Dutch Minister of Defence, the Governor of Limburg, SACEUR and many other distinguished guests. Since then France has re-joined the military structure of NATO whilst the relationship between the NATO headquarters based at Brunssum and its host town continues to grow ever stronger.
Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office