Ceremony participants, staff, and attendees render honors during the playing of the NATO hymn and Turkish national anthem during the NATO Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) Change of Command Ceremony held August 4, 2020 at LANDCOM Headquarters in Izmir, Turkey. (NATO photo taken by Sergeant First Class David Vivar (Spanish Army) LANDCOM Public Affairs.)
LANDCOM's new top officer recently commanded U.S. Army Africa / Southern European Task Force in Vincenza, Italy. He said his experiences there helped prepare him for taking on his new role in NATO.
In my previous assignment I focused on building relationships, readiness, and interoperability with our Soldiers, Western Allies, and partners through complex and dynamic training. I look forward to carrying the lessons I learned during my two years there to continue the great work this command has been doing under J.T.'s leadership.
In his farewell address, Lieutenant General Thomson, who is retiring after more 34 years of military service, offered words of gratitude for LANDCOM's host nation, the Republic of Turkey, and the people of Izmir.
"LANDCOM is very fortunate to
be based at this strategic location on the Aegean coast. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines,
civilians, and families from 25 nations are warmly embraced, and we are
extremely appreciative for the incredible and unwavering support," said
Lieutenant General Thomson. "Izmir is truly home away from home, and I will
never forget your genuine kindness and hospitality.
LANDCOM was established in Izmir, Turkey, December 1, 2012, at the former NATO Air Command-Izmir, which deactivated the following year on June 1, 2013. It is one of three single service commands in Allied Command Operations (ACO).
Its mission is to serve as the Theatre Land Component (TLC) and land advocate responsible for coordinating and synchronizing NATO and partner land forces by enabling land domain readiness, interoperability, standardization, and competency. It also has the mission to deploy headquarters elements to provide planning, coordination, and command and control capabilities to Allied forces when needed.
Left to right: Lieutenant General J.T. Thomson (U.S. Army), outgoing Commander of NATO Allied Land Command (LANDCOM); General Tod D. Wolters (U.S. Air Force), Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR); and Lieutenant General Roger L. Cloutier Jr. (U.S. Army) deliver remarks during the Change of Command Ceremony held August 4, 2020 at LANDCOM Headquarters in Izmir, Turkey. (NATO photo taken by Sergeant First Class David Vivar (Spanish Army) and Corporal Janar Leveler, LANDCOM Public Affairs.)
General Tod D. Wolters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), officiated the ceremony between the two senior officers, both whom he considered as "legends" of their craft. Among his heartfelt farewell for Lieutenant General Thomson and his hearty welcome to Lieutenant General Cloutier was a final note for the men and women of LANDCOM.
"Peace, in 2020, is really difficult. We've got a lot of security challenges in the security environment. We've got COVID-19," said General Wolters. "But as long as we have soldiers like the ones in LANDCOM that continue to put one foot in front of the other and focus, with vigilance, on the mission, we'll have the peace that we've enjoyed for seven decades, and it will continue in perpetuity."
In his closing remarks, Lieutenant General Thomson emphasized the importance of LANDCOM to NATO land forces.
"History teaches us that strength deters aggression," he said. "Given today's threats in an era of great power competition, it is incumbent on land forces to be ready and strong."
Lieutenant General Cloutier, the fifth commander to take the leadership reigns at LANDCOM, also recognized the LANDCOM team charged with accomplishing their challenging mission.
"The strength of this command lies in its bench of diverse leaders and service members from all over the world, working shoulder-to-shoulder under the NATO flag in a united effort for collective defense and for the preservation of peace and security," he said.
Lieutenant General Roger L. Cloutier Jr. (U.S. Army) receives the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) standard from General Tod D. Wolters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), during the Change of Command Ceremony held Tuesday, August 4 2020 at LANDCOM Headquarters in Izmir, Turkey. (NATO photo taken by Sergeant First Class David Vivar (Spanish Army), LANDCOM Public Affairs)