The North Atlantic Council appointed former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to be the Alliance’s next Secretary General, effective Oct. 1. He will replace Anders Fogh Rasmussen who has served in the position since 2009, according to a March 28 NATO release. As Prime Minister, Stoltenberg “frequently called for NATO to focus on security challenges close to allied territory,” states his bio. He also is a “strong supporter” of “better burden-sharing across the Atlantic,” something US leaders staunchly support. The White House and Defense Department “welcomed” the announcement in separate statements released Friday. “Mr. Stoltenberg is a proven leader with a demonstrated commitment to the transatlantic Alliance,” states a White House statement. “As Prime Minister, he built Norway’s military capabilities and actively contributed to NATO operations and political dialogue. We are confident he is the best person to ensure the continued strength and unity of the NATO Alliance.” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Stoltenberg will “bring strong credentials and experience to the Alliance at a critically important time.” Both leaders also thanked Rasmussen for his leadership and guidance over the last five years. (Hagel statement)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.