Ministers, Ambassadors, Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning!
It is a pleasure to be here today as we recognize the accomplishments of NATO Headquarters Sarajevo. NATO has an enduring commitment to Bosnia and Herzegovina. This commitment has taken several forms, dating back to the initial deployment of the NATO-led Implementation Force (IFOR) of 60,000 multinational troops in December 1995.
That NATO mission was to implement the military aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Dayton Peace Accords. This was essential for security and stability and set the conditions for peace. A year later, the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) arrived to help deter hostilities, stabilize peace and contribute to a safe and secure environment as reconstruction began.
When SFOR's mission ended in December 2004, NATO Headquarters Sarajevo was stood up – just over 15 years ago.
Since that day, NATO has continued its enduring commitment. NATO has supported reforms and helped build capabilities that benefit the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
NHQSa has been a key facilitator for reform in the defense and security sector. NHQSa further provides support to the European Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while working with national institutions to provide advice and support. NHQSa has provided support to the Bosnia and Herzegovina government for sovereign security decisions.
Readiness has been demonstrated through participation in Partnership for Peace activities over the years. Indeed, Bosnia and Herzegovina contributes to peace operations and NATO is thankful for our partner's wiliness to serve and protect others.
A stable Bosnia and Herzegovina is an essential contributor of peace and stability for the region.
NATO Headquarters Sarajevo has helped Bosnia and Herzegovina create a better future for 15 years and will continue into the future – we are committed to a stable, secure Bosnia and Herzegovina, today, and tomorrow.
Under Brigadier General Marti Bissell's sage leadership since July 2018, much has been accomplished.
Marti was well prepared for command following her tour as the National Guard Joint Chief of Staff, with immense responsibilities that included coordination of operations, staff functions and personnel for the nearly 455,000 members of the US National Guard.
As Commander and Senior Military Representative at NATO Headquarters – Sarajevo, she leveraged her exceptional leadership skills that had been honed by command at the company, battalion and brigade level.
Serving as a key advisor to the Bosnia and Herzegovina government on defense reform, she has excelled.
During her command, Marti spearheaded a comprehensive assessment of the current challenges facing Bosnia and Herzegovina, allowing a more tailored approach by NHQSa.
The Headquarters also completed a Manpower Organization Review that allowed for minor reorganization of the headquarters as well as the creation of eight new posts to improve efficiencies and better fulfill the mandate.
Her robust efforts have spurred strategic conversations about how to best fulfill NATO's enduring commitment to the region.
Marti's strategic outlook, diplomatic acumen and visionary leadership have further increased readiness and better utilization of resources here at NHQSa.
Under her command, NHQSa has made genuine progress and reaffirmed the enduring commitment of NATO to peace and stability. Marti has been an indispensable partner and an exceptional commander. You've made a difference in a challenging environment and I want to thank you for a job well done. As we say in the Navy, fair winds and following seas, shipmate!
I want to welcome the incoming Commander and Senior Military Representative at NATO Headquarters – Sarajevo.
An accomplished soldier – and PhD, Brigadier General William Edwards brings with him tremendous experience and operational perspectives.
Coming from Camp Smith, Hawaii, where he was the Mobilization Assistant to the Director of Operations J-3 at INDOPACOM, he brings proven leadership abilities. Bill, I look forward to working with you! I know you will build upon the great work that Marti has accomplished and will ensure NHQSa continues its important work here.
The mission of NHQSa is an important one – I know you will all continue to proudly represent NATO and continue to support consolidating the capacities of Bosnia and Herzegovina's defense institutions. Commander and Senior Military Representative at NATO Headquarters – Sarajevo has made a difference these past 15 years – and together, we will continue to create a better future. Thank you.