The Change of Command ceremony is a military tradition, with the passing of the guidon, or pennant, from the previous commander to the incoming signifying both the transfer of responsibility and the continuity of the role.
Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Tod D. Wolters, presided over the ceremony, and welcomed Admiral Burke to NATO while thanking Admiral Foggo for his outstanding contribution to the mission, "You've served with great distinction for the last three years in command, just as you have throughout your outstanding career. Your efforts in the Balkans, and in taking NATO Mission Iraq and Hub South to full operational capability have all strengthened our posture in all strategic directions, because of your leadership and sound counsel" Wolters said.
Expressing his thoughts on departing JFC Naples, Admiral Foggo said,
"My sincere thanks to all JFC Naples staff, your families, and our gracious Italian hosts for making my time in command in this wonderful country so rewarding: it has been the greatest honor of my life. We have achieved much and our mission will continue, united as one NATO family. We truly are stronger together. Fair winds and following seas."
Admiral Burke thanked Admiral Foggo for all he had achieved during his time at JFCNP, and emphasized that he will build on the momentum that Admiral Foggo has fostered, saying:
"Assuming command of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa and Allied Joint Force Command - Naples is a true privilege. I am honored to accept the mantle of responsibility from Admiral Foggo and look forward to working together with NATO Allies and partners as we continue to deter and, if necessary, defend our Alliance in an increasingly complex security environment."
Admiral Burke will command a key NATO headquarters, where the mission is to prepare for, plan and conduct military operations in order to preserve the peace, security and territorial integrity of NATO Alliance member states throughout SACEUR's Area of Responsibility and beyond.
Admiral Burke previously served as the Navy's 40th vice chief of naval operations, and the senior naval advisor to the secretary of the US Navy and the chief of naval operations. Admiral Foggo will retire from the U.S. Navy with over 40 years of military service.
JFCNP was activated in 2004 as a successor headquarters to Allied Forces Southern Europe, and an American Naval flag officer holds the commander position.
Today's ceremony was held outside in the courtyard of the JFCNP headquarters building with reduced guest numbers, social distancing, access to hand sanitizer stations, and the use of VTC capabilities, as a result of COVID-19 mitigations and in adherence with Italian decrees.
Admiral Robert P. Burke, Joint Force Command Naples Commander, enters the JFC Naples change of command ceremony with a traditional salute in Lago Patria, Italy, on 17 July, 2020. Admiral Burke assumed command from Admiral James G. Foggo III.
General Tod D. Wolters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) passes the symbolic guidon flag to Admiral Robert P. Burke, Joint Force Command Naples Commander, in the JFC Naples change of command ceremony in Lago Patria, Italy, on 17 July, 2020. Admiral Burke assumed command from Admiral James G. Foggo III.