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STUTTGART, Germany — The commander of Special Operations Command Europe marked the unit’s 52nd birthday Friday by telling troops about past missions and advising them to dig in for future ones.

“We are in a tough fight against a committed foe,” Rear Adm. William H. McRaven told an audience of about 150 people at the Patch Barracks gymnasium.

“But our nation has never backed down from a good fight — and this is the right fight, in the right place, at the right time, and all of you in SOCEUR have a part to play.”

McRaven spoke during a 20-minute ceremony. Most in the audience belonged to the command’s headquarters, which plans and coordinates special operations missions such as the July evacuation in Beirut, Lebanon.

Afterward, he said the occasion was a chance to tell his troops to expect a long haul in the fight to quell terrorism, and that each of their contributions helped.

“I don’t want any of them to think that it’s not going to be tough,” McRaven said. “It is going to be tough. But we’re absolutely prepared to move forward on all fronts and fight that battle if we have to.”

McRaven also spoke of the Nov. 3, 2005, death of Capt. Jeffrey P. Toczylowski, a detachment commander with the Stuttgart-based 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group.

Toczylowski, 30, who fell from a helicopter during a combat infiltration in Anbar Province, Iraq, had set aside $100,000 in case of his death so friends and family could throw a big party in Las Vegas. About 120 guests attended the party, held in November.

The mention was appreciated by Army Maj. Andrew Cooper of SOCEUR’s plans and logistics directorate. He said it made the ceremony different from a run-of-the-mill ceremony.

“Throwing in the part about the farewell party brought it out of the typical event,” Cooper said. “It gave a little flavor of our community and made it a lot better.”

For Air Force Maj. Jason Nulton, also of plans and logistics, the ceremony helped reflect on his two-plus years in the command.

“The assignment has been an eye-opening experience for me,” Nulton said. “Special operations is one of those things that nobody knew a whole lot about.

“I’m used to big deployments, big units. Here it is small teams, going into remote places, a lot of hands-on stuff with host-nation troops.”

SOCEUR supports the U.S. European Command, also based in Stuttgart, in a 92-nation area that includes Europe, about two-thirds of Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean.

In addition to the Special Forces battalion, its units include the SOCEUR Signal Detachment of the 112th Signal Battalion (Airborne), and Navy Special Warfare Unit Two, both based in Stuttgart, plus the Mildenhall, England-based 352nd Special Operations Group.


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