Dual Change of Command for NAEW&C Force and E-3A Component
On 22 April 2009, NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen was the scene for a dual change of command for both the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force Command and the NATO E 3A Component.
Gen. Sir John McColl, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, presided over the ceremony.
The commander of the NAEW&C Force, Maj. Gen. Axel Tüttelmann, German Air Force, handed over the post of Force Commander to Maj. Gen. Stephen D. Schmidt, U.S. Air Force, who has served for three and a half years as E-3A Component Commander. Schmidt now moves to the Force Command Headquarters, which is collocated with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe at Mons, Belgium.
This ceremony preceded Maj. Gen. Tüttelmann’s retirement from active duty.
The NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force consists of two Components, the E-3A Component at Geilenkirchen and the Royal Air Force's E-3D Component at Waddington, U.K. The E-3D Component is manned entirely by British personnel, while the E-3A Component is NATO's only multinational flying unit, with personnel from 15 nations.
More than 3,000 military and civilian personnel work at the Main Operating Base at Geilenkirchen. The Component also operates three forward operating bases in Italy, Turkey and Greece and one forward operating location in Norway.
The new Commander of the E-3A Component is Brig. Gen. Burkhard Pototzky, German Air Force. Pototzky previously served as Chief Balkan Operations, Joint Commitments Staff, at the Ministry of Defence, Germany.
"Right now we are part of the political discussion about the possible use of NATO AWACS to support ISAF operations and deliver urgently needed capabilities to our forces in Afghanistan. That means we have to be mission ready in all required areas so that we can start a possible deployment on short notice. We will be successful if we remember our strengths and rise to the challenge with courage, heart and drive. These are the characteristics which distinguish us from others," said Pototzky in his inaugural speech.