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STUTTGART, Germany — The pretty blue NATO pamphlet that promotes and explains transformation features a few words highlighted in bold print.

“A new day ahead,” the catch phrase proclaims.

While that may apply to the alliance, transformation isn’t all that new to the U.S. military, Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani said Friday.

“We actually starting doing this after the wall came down,” Giambastiani said, referring to the Berlin Wall, “but we did it in a less focused way because we had a long way to go.”

That’s no longer the case, given the passage of time, the current U.S. administration and the campaign against worldwide terrorism.

As head of U.S. Joint Forces Command and NATO’s Allied Command Transformation, Giambastiani is at the forefront of the effort to retrain U.S. and NATO forces. He visited Stuttgart on Friday as part of a tour that includes stops in Afghanistan and England.

“Transformation is a process that is broad and very deep,” Giambastiani said. “And by that I mean, transformation \[is about\] changing the way, for example, we develop, educate and train our armed forces, officer and enlisted. It means changing the way we procure weapons systems to deliver them more rapidly.”

While many people now associate transformation with shifting forces east, base closures and unaccompanied tours, the 55-year-old admiral said it’s “a lot about culture and thinking about how to improve” the force.

In his 33 years in uniform, Giambastiani said he has experienced two watershed events that transformed the military.

One was the advent of the all-volunteer force in 1973. The second, he said, was the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, which, among other things, placed the highest priority on joint operations.

“The word ‘transformation’ kind of implies a beginning and an end,” Giambastiani said. “There is no beginning and end in transformation. It is a continuous, long-term process. If you are doing it properly, it never ends.”

Ultimately, he added, the goal is to give servicemembers the best chance to succeed on the battlefield and return home to their families and friends.

Alliance job titles get tweaking

STUTTGART, Germany — Keeping track of organizational changes, military acronyms and all sorts of nuisances can be challenging.

Take Gen. James L. Jones, the NATO commander who also heads the U.S. European Command.

Ever since World War II, the general or admiral wearing that dual hat was known in NATO circles as the supreme allied commander Europe, or SACEUR. But recent organizational and policy changes have led the alliance to change Jones’ title to supreme allied commander in Europe, said German air force Lt. Col. Hartmut Beilmann, a NATO spokesman.

“This is part of NATO transformation,” Beilmann said, adding that the acronym SACEUR won’t change.

The change makes sense, given that NATO now operates well beyond its former footprint and that Jones’ responsibility has been extended to include areas formerly under the jurisdiction of Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani.

A few days ago, Stars and Stripes mistakenly added to Jones’ workload, assigning him a new organization that Giambastiani now heads, Allied Command Transformation.

That was incorrect. Giambastiani had been the supreme allied commander Atlantic, a post that has since disappeared.

In short, NATO has changed its name for Allied Command Europe to Allied Command Operations, a decision stemming from the 2002 summit in Prague, Czech Republic.

— Kevin Dougherty


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