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General Philip Breedlove awarded Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Award 2017

Four-star USAF general and former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) Philip M. Breedlove was awarded the Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Award 2017. CSTA is awarded biannualy at NATO Days in Ostrava and GLOBSEC konference in Bratislava to those who have substantially contributed to freedom and democracy in Central Europe, to strengthening of the transatlantic relations and integration of Central Europe to Euro-Atlantic Institutions. Earlier awardees include US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, NATO Secretary General Anders F. Rasmussen, president of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski and other.

Gen. Breedlove


Laudatory Remarks by Ambassador Jiří Šedivý, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the North Atlantic Council

on the occasion of honouring

General Philip Mark Breedlove

with the

2017 Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Award

NATO Days in Ostrava, September 15, 2017

Ministers, Excellencies, Members of Parliament, Generals, Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today we honour the 17th NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Philip Mark Breedlove. About sixty-five years ago, General Eisenhower was appointed as the very first SACEUR. He set the golden standard for this job which immediately became one of the most challenging and most respected military posts in the world. Only the best of the best of the US military can get selected for this position.

General Breedlove was perfectly well prepared for this both in terms of his education (he holds several distinguished university degrees) as well as his military career. Since being commissioned in 1977 he has been assigned to numerous operational, command and staff positions. He has completed nine overseas tours. He is a command pilot with 3,500 flying hours, primarily in the F-16.

Phil came to NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) in May 2013. His main task at that time was to finish our combat mission in Afghanistan (including handing responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to its own national forces) and to launch the Resolute Support Mission to train, advise and assist those forces.

As for the overall NATO military posture in that time, we expected a fundamental shift from the high operational tempo of the previous two decades to a high operational readiness for future contingencies.

In the end of that year, i.e. 2013, the North Atlantic Council (the NAC) had the first informal debate about the upcoming summit in Wales. Some colleagues expressed their doubts about the very rationale of the summit that was planned for the late summer 2014. They argued that we would not be able to prepare enough substance to justify a full-fledged meeting of our Heads of State and Government.

Yet soon after that, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine triggered the most significant change to European security since the fall of the Berlin Wall. And during the same year 2014 instability and violence across North Africa and the Middle East escalated at a rocket speed. This has led to mass migration and vast human tragedy.

NATO had to respond on multiple fronts -- or in the 360 degrees mode as we call it. The NAC and the Military Committee began issuing a true avalanche of tasks, most of them with the SACEUR´s address on the envelope.

With your military advice and leadership Phil, we have devised and implemented the Assurance Measures as the immediate reaction to the concerns of our eastern flank Allies; Readiness Action Plan that launched NATO adaptation to the situation that you -- as the very first in the top NATO leadership labelled as the “new normal”.

This “new normal” statement was extremely important to hear from NATO´s topmost military authority at the time when some Allies were still in the state of denial concerning Russia and her long term strategy – hoping that what happened in Crimea and Ukraine was just an episode, hiccup or nightmare, from which we will heal or wake up tomorrow and business would continue as usual again.

Fortunately you were always straightforward in fulfilling the SACEUR´s obligation to deliver what is called the “unfettered military advice”, meaning a view unbiased with political concerns or correctness.

Your forward-leaning approach and strategic foresight were central to developing our military plans for the summit in Warsaw in 2016 with the aim to establish a multinational military presence in the eastern countries of our Alliance. The enhanced Forward Presence Battle Groups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have achieved the Full Operational Capability very recently.

In often tricky political landscape, with always insufficient number of the planning staff, being constantly bombarded with salvos of new tasks from NAC you managed to promote your vision of NATO. And all that with your great sense of humour, positive attitude and resilience even under utmost pressures.

So when you were handing over the Command to your successor in May last year, you left behind your three SACEUR years NATO stronger, more credible in its deterrence and defence posture, with substantially higher level of readiness as well as more relevant for its partners in projecting stability.

And, last but not least, seen and most appreciated from this part of Europe, the Alliance is now present militarily in its eastern flank, guaranteeing its first and fundamental core task – collective defence.
Thank you Phil for all you have done. And I would also like to thank Cindy, your spouse, for supporting you steadfastly throughout your career.

Having said all that, I cannot imagine anyone better suited for the 2017 Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Award than General Philip Mark Breedlove.

Phil, are you ready to add this Award to the long list of your distinctions?