Gen. Breedlove welcomed as commander of NATO's SHAPE

U.S. Air Force General Philip Mark Breedlove took over command of NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Mons, Belgium, on Monday as part of a handover ceremony.

Gen. Breedlove took over as Supreme Allied Commander Europe from Admiral James Stavridis. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen attended the ceremony and praised both Stavridis and Breedlove for their service.

"I am honored to be here today for this handover ceremony to thank Admiral Stavridis for his outstanding contribution to transatlantic security and to welcome our new Supreme Allied Commander, General Breedlove, to the Alliance," Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said that as Breedlove took over the position, NATO's top priority would remain the mission in Afghanistan.

"On your watch, Afghan forces will be taking full responsibility for the security of their own country, and ISAF will complete its combat mission as planned at the end of 2014," Rasmussen said. "You will help shape a new and different NATO-led mission: to train, assist and advise the Afghan forces after 2014."

Rasmussen also stressed the importance of NATO increasing its ability to defend against threats like terrorism, missile proliferation and cyber attacks during difficult financial times.

Gen. Breedlove will be responsible for the overall command of all NATO missions and operations with over 110,000 NATO troops working under his command.

"As I take command today, I am humbled by the great company I am joining, intrigued by the challenges we will face together, and inspired by the recent achievements of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from across this incredible alliance," Breedlove said. "Within the borders of our alliance we enjoy unprecedented levels of stability, but beyond our frontiers there is uncertainty and insecurity. As SACEUR my first and enduring priority will be to ensure that NATO remains vigilant and prepared to meet the challenges and threats of the future with agile, capable, and interoperable military forces."