NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Adm. Mark Ferguson assumed command as Commander Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, relieving Adm. Bruce W. Clingan in a ceremony, July 22.
U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, presided over the change of command ceremony. Gen. Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe/Commander, U.S. European Command and Gen. David Rodriquez, Commander, U.S. Africa Command, also participated in the event.
Greenert praised Clingan for his leadership and performance while in command.
"Bruce has been the right leader, in the right place, at the right time. The Clingans have provided us an enduring contribution both to the Navy, to NATO and to Naval Forces Europe-Africa. Our Navy, our nation and all the international partners here and around the NATO area very much thank you," remarked Greenert.
During the ceremony, Greenert also presented Clingan with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
Clingan expressed his gratitude to the men and women serving under him and with him at NATO and U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.
"I am proud of you, all of you in both staffs, that you had the courage to act; the creativity to turn impediments into opportunities; and the integrity to make good on our solemn promise to be able to defend our nations," said Clingan.
Clingan also commented on the dedication of the military and civilian personnel from 20 different countries who work at JFC.
"Each of the nations represented owe an immense debt of gratitude to these consummate professionals, who ultimately form the foundation of our collective military strength," said Clingan. "Their exceptional contributions have inspired me every day."
Clingan will retire this fall after 37 years of naval service.
Ferguson, who previously served as Vice Chief of Naval Operations in Wash. D.C., addressed his and NATO's continued commitment to the alliance.
"As history has demonstrated, the NATO alliance remains the bedrock of U.S. national security. It is an alliance founded on shared values, cemented in trust and built to endure," said Ferguson. "I am committed to strengthening the alliance and working with our allies and partners to ensure we remain a positive force for stability and peace throughout the region."
Ferguson will be the 28th U.S. naval officer to serve as commander of JFC.
As commander JFC Naples, Ferguson will prepare for, plan and conduct military operations in order to preserve the peace, security and territorial integrity of Alliance member states and freedom of the seas and economic lifelines throughout the Supreme Allied Commander Europe's area of operations and beyond. NATO operational responsibilities include operations in the Balkans, Black Sea, Mediterranean and NATO training missions.
As Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Ferguson will be responsible for providing overall command, operational control, and coordination of U.S. Naval Forces in the Europe and Africa Command areas of operations.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.