A dual change of command ceremony was held at the NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen on Thursday, July 29 for the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force and the NAEW&C Force E-3A Component. Major General Jörg Lebert handed over command of the Force to Major General Thomas E. Kunkel while Brigadier General Charles B. McDaniel handed over command of the E-3A Component to Brigadier General Stefan W. Neumann.
The NATO AWACS Force consists of two Components, the E-3A Component in Geilenkirchen and the Royal Air Force's E-3D Component at Waddington, U.K. The E-3D is composed entirely of British personnel, while the E-3A Component is NATO's multinational flying unit, with international aircrews from 17 nations.
In taking command of the Force from Major General Lebert, Major General Kunkel thanked leadership, Force members, families and friends for their hard work, and opportunity to serve the Force with trust and confidence.
"It is through the professionalism, discipline and strength of you as TEAM, that we are able to detect, direct and dominate the skies to provide vigilance that NATO demands," said Kunkel. "You've faced many challenges, including a significant decrease in peace time establishment positions, as well as maintaining an outstanding operations tempo through COVID-19. General Lebert, General McDaniel, it is through your persistent leadership that the Force has been able to meet, and even exceed the standards that have been asked of it."
Brigadier General Neumann also addressed the leadership present, the outgoing commanders and all men and women of the NAEW&CF E-3A Component that will serve under his command.
General Lebert, you have just handed over to me the command of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, E-3A Component," said Brigadier General Stefan W. Neumann. "First of all, I would like to thank all my superiors for the trust they put in me as Component Commander. I will pursue the accomplishments of our tasks and the welfare of my staff members with a high sense of responsibility and great commitment."
200 guests and personnel attended the ceremony, which was presided over by Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod D. Wolters, who gave his farewell to the outgoing Force Commander, Major General Jörg Lebert and the Component Commander, Brigadier General Charles B. McDaniel, who leave the Air Base after guiding the Force and the Component for the last three years.