In an unprecedented video-transmitted ceremony, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Tod. D. Wolters (U.S. Air Force), transferred authority over Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCBS) from General Erhard Bühler to General Jörg Vollmer (both German Army) on April 22nd.
As all NATO commands strictly obey COVID-19 related rules and restrictions imposed by their respective host nation, General Wolters supervised a virtual passing of the flag in the Dutch city of Brunssum from his office in Mons, Belgium. Twenty-seven Admirals, Generals and other senior military representatives from the NATO family and partner nations attended the virtual ceremony online.
SACEUR in his address highlighted the outgoing commander's extraordinary leadership skills by saying "General Bühler had a tremendous impact on all of us as we have all been strengthened by his will. He improved our operational activities and our ability to secure peace." General Wolters then welcomed the new commander, General Jörg Vollmer, as "the perfect choice for this command."
General Bühler in his response to SACEUR expressed deep gratitude for the honour of commanding JFCBS. He encouraged the headquarters to continue to focus on safeguarding Europe's north-eastern flank, support NATOs mission in Afghanistan and lead NATOs response force (NRF) by summarizing "our most important aim is to build a capable force for deterrence and defence."
The new JFCBS commander General Jörg Vollmer assured the audience that he will carry on his predecessor's legacy. "Work in this headquarters continues despite COVID-19 and the threats we face have not vanished. JFCBS will be ready for whatever it takes" he underlined.
The Dutch Chief of Defence, Admiral Rob Bauer, emphasized the value of the Alliance in the fight against COVID-19. "This crisis has shown us just how strong our solidarity is. NATO allies are once again joining forces in a robust response" he said. Admiral Bauer welcomed the new commander on behalf of the Netherlands and thanked General Erhard Bühler for his military achievements as well as for enhancing the good relations between JFCBS and the Dutch community in Limburg province. "As such a good neighbour, you will always be welcome here," the Admiral concluded.
The German Chief of Defence, General Eberhard Zorn, expressed his high recognition for General Bühler and commended him by saying "you represent Germany in the best way in NATO". He also reiterated that Germany remains determined and will continue to support NATO and the Netherlands in the fight against COVID-19. General Zorn lauded the new commander as "well experienced and best prepared for his challenging duties."
Upon conclusion of the virtual ceremony, members of the headquarters, appropriately distanced to each other, lined up for General Bühlers walk-out and farewell.