Munsch takes command of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa > United States Navy > News-Stories

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U.S. Navy Adm. Stuart B. Munsch relieved the ADM. Robert P. Burke as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) during a change of command ceremony held aboard Joint Forces Command (JFC) Headquarters Naples in Naples, Italy, June 27 2022.

U.S. Army Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, Commander, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), and U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Supreme Commander Allied Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of United States European Command (EUCOM), presided over the ceremony.

Townsend began formal remarks and reflected on Burke’s steadfast leadership as the maritime component commander of US Africa Command.

“At US Africa Command, we fully appreciate the importance of maritime lines of communication to Western economies and our ability to project power,” Townsend said. “It is also evident to me that our adversaries value these facts as well. Every day they compete with us, the United States, NATO and our other allies and partners for maritime advantage.”

Townsend spoke of the NAVAF’s critical role in stemming malign activity in Africa, noting Burke’s unwavering support for African partners to promote maritime security and stability across the continent.

“Faced with these challenges, and arguably a portfolio more complex than Europe, Bob Burke ensured that NAVAF was always in the right place at the right time to maximize our strategic impact and provide seamless support to our allies and our partners,” Townsend said.

Townsend noted that despite heavy operational demands and fiscal pressures, Burke not only held his ground, he advanced American interests in Africa and all facets of the maritime domain.

During his remarks, Townsend also welcomed the new commander, Munsch.

“You have an impressive resume of operational experience, and your time in key strategic positions at the Pentagon is going to pay off for us here,” Townsend said. “I know NAVAF has a firm hand at the helm.”

Wolters also congratulated Burke and his wife Barbara for 39 years of dedicated service at the ceremony.

“Barbara, we know that you have delivered to us, one of the most spectacular commanders in the history of the conflict, and we thank you very much for facilitating the extraordinary achievements of your husband, and we thank you very much for the sacrifices what you’ve done in the past,” Wolters said. “Bob, I’m so proud of you. We are old shipmates, I will miss you. We talked a lot on the phone because there was a lot of late night work and the one thing you knew about Bob Burke was that 1000% of the time he was going to be ready. Bob, we wish you and Barbara the calmest seas and bluest skies as you return to Florida and congratulations on 39 years of superior service. Well done my friend.”

Wolters acknowledged the enormous responsibilities Burke handled during his tenure as Commander of NAVEUR-NAVAF as well as his many NATO duties as Commander of JFC Naples, the main ones being Operation Allies Welcome and the invasion of NATO. Ukraine by Russia, which he called Burke’s most important. task.

“To me, as Commander of SHAPE, the one human being on planet Earth who is most responsible for the deterrence of our sovereign soil and the effectiveness we have been able to maintain thus far is Bob Burke,” Wolters said.

Burke spoke about his role in the current geopolitical situation in Europe, underscoring the gravity of the moment and the continued work that will be required of the NAVEUR-NAVAF team.

“We are living at a watershed moment in transatlantic security. You have been at the center of the American response to this reality, playing a key role in the most fundamental recalibration of the United States Navy in Europe that I have seen in 40 years of service,” Burke said. “I am so grateful for your commitment to service, teamwork, learning and innovation – all of this ensures that this inspiring team of teams is ready to fight and win should the need arise. felt.”

During his tenure, Burke assumed operational responsibility for naval forces and activities in a wide swath of territory, including 93 countries from the North Pole to the Cape of Good Hope and east of the Mid-Atlantic to the Caspian Sea. In addition to overseeing units and personnel typically assigned to Commander Naval Region Europe, Africa, Central, and the U.S. Sixth Fleet, Burke also led several carrier strike groups as well as task forces. amphibious loans and maritime expeditionary units. Burke and the NAVEUR and SIXTHFLT teams created Task Force 61 Naval Amphibious Forces Europe/2d Marine Division (TF-61/2) to synchronize Navy and Marine Corps efforts across Europe and Africa.

Under Burke’s leadership, Naval Forces Europe has enhanced interoperability with NATO allies and partners through some of the largest and most successful multinational exercises and activities, including BALTOPS, Formidable Shield and the Project Neptune series, Allied multi-carrier operations and unprecedented support for NATO. reinforced sky police missions.

As Commander of Naval Forces Africa, he strengthened relationships across the African continent, leading projects such as Women, Peace and Security and the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams Expeditionary Sea Base World Tour ( BSE 4). Williams’ circumnavigation also featured the first ESB rig voyage repair availability in South Africa. In addition, NAVAF facilitated regional exercises of the Express series, Obangame in West Africa, Cutlass in East Africa and Phoenix in North Africa, as part of an overall strategy to provide opportunities collaboration between African forces and international partners that respond to maritime security issues, including interdiction operations. .

“Together, you maintain an unprecedented level of activity in the European Command and African Command areas of responsibility and demonstrate that our collaborative network at sea remains the Joint Force’s asymmetric advantage,” Burke said.

Munsch, a North Dakota native, most recently served as Director of Joint Force Development, J-7, Joint Staff, Washington D.C. Other notable assignments include service aboard USS Will Rogers (SSBN 659), USS Jefferson City (SSN 759), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), on Command Staff, Cruiser Destroyer Group 5, and USS Tucson (SSN 770). He also commanded the USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) from 2002 to 2005, followed by service at the Pentagon as Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense, then as Executive Assistant to the Director of War. Submarine, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations ( OPNAV N87).

“In a way, this tour represents a full circle for me. My dad was in the Navy for enlistment, but it gave him a lifetime of stories,” Munsch said. “And his favorite place to visit has always been Italy, and especially Naples because of the people and of course because of the food.”

Munsch thanked Burke for his lasting contributions and outlined his goals upon assuming command as NAVEUR-NAVAF and JFC Naples.

“I want to thank the Burkes, you have been so kind, both professionally and personally, in helping us through this transition. Thank you very much,” Munsch said. “I look forward to working with you. [JFC Naples and NAVEUR-NAVAF] deter and defend, advance our interoperability and strengthen our alliance.

In conclusion, Burke thanked the Sailors and leadership for their extraordinary work and urged all hands to continue to face emerging challenges with unwavering resolve.

“Our two headquarters here in Naples continue to punch well above their weight. This is what we needed and will continue to rely on as our margins for error shrink and two revisionist powers continue to exploit their perceived advantages,” Burke said. “Uncertainty is the new normal, requiring us to always take advantage of the advantages we have while remaining prepared for anything, from any direction, at any time.”

For more than 80 years, NAVEUR-NAVAF has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, building on a foundation of shared values ​​to preserve security and stability.

Based in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in EUCOM and AFRICOM areas of responsibility. The U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF and employs maritime forces across the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.

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