Admiral Stavridis -- first navy admiral to become SACEUR 2 July 2009 MONS, Belgium — Admiral James Stavridis today became NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) assuming command of Allied Command Operations from outgoing SACEUR, General John Craddock. The change of command, presided over by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, marks the first time in NATO history that a navy admiral assumes the post since the position was established in 1951 when General Dwight D. Eisenhower became the first SACEUR. Admiral Stavridis is the sixteenth American officer to hold the prestigious post. “Today I am lucky enough to find myself standing on the bridge, ready to take the watch; but I know I am not taking the watch alone,” said Admiral Stavridis after assuming command. “With me are over seventy thousand shipmates – military and civilian – in three continents from the populated plains and coasts of Europe to the bright blue of the Mediterranean Sea; from the high mountain passes of Afghanistan to the distant Arctic Circle.” “You stand in a long line of heroes who ‘stood and delivered’ across this continent for decades in both war and peace,” Stavridis continued. “I honour your service, I pledge my support and loyalty to each of you, and I will continue to strengthen the pillars of our transatlantic bridge as we build new ones. That is my mission, and I will do my best." SACEUR is responsible to NATO’s Military Committee, the highest military authority in NATO, for the overall direction and conduct of military operations for NATO. A United States Flag or General officer, SACEUR is dual-hatted as Commander U.S. European Command. His command is exercised from Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) at Casteau, Belgium.