- On July 11, 2022, General James B. Hecker, Commander Allied Air Command (AIRCOM), handed over the command of the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force during a ceremony at the Force's Main Operating Base in Sigonella, Italy.
The Alliance Ground Surveillance system gives commanders a comprehensive
picture of the situation on the ground, providing a state-of-the-art
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability to NATO
General Hecker welcomed incoming commander, Brigadier General Andrew M. Clark, and thanked outgoing commander, Brigadier General Houston R. Cantwell, for his hard work and dedication. "The Alliance Ground Surveillance system gives commanders a comprehensive picture of the situation on the ground, providing a state-of-the-art Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability to NATO," the AIRCOM Commander said.
General James B. Hecker (middle), Commander Allied Air Command hands over the command of NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NATO AGSF) from Brigadier General Houston R. Cantwell (left) to Andrew M. Clark (right). Photo by Christian Träger, NATO AGSF
The AGS NATO RQ-4D aircraft has been uniquely adapted to NATO requirements to provide a state-of-the-art intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to all Allies.
"The Alliance Ground Surveillance system gives commanders a comprehensive picture of the situation on the ground," said General James B. Hecker during his remarks.
Photo by Christian Träger, NATO AGSF
During the past two years, since General Cantwell took over the
Force has made progress in many areas. In February 2021, the Force achieved an
Initial Operational Capability. In May 2022, for the first time, the Force flew
their RQ-4D remotely piloted aerial vehicles seamlessly on eight consecutive
days. Under his command, the intelligence production of the Force has increased
exponentially, continuing to generate, edit and distribute thousands of
qualified intelligence products to NATO leadership and all 30 Allies.
"We've proven ourselves to be NATO's premiere intelligence hub by
providing Allied decision-makers essential ISR. The Ukraine crisis has provided
an opportunity to grow at an accelerated pace," said a proud outgoing
Commander. "Our exceptional international team from 24 Allied Nations has
achieved so much in close coordination with our partners across Europe and
North America," he added underlining the close cooperation of his team with the
Italian Host Nation authorities, NATO's Support and Procurement Organization
and industry partners.
The incoming Commander, Brigadier General Clark, is joining NATO's
ISR hub at Sigonella, after commanding the United States Air Force 380th Air
Expeditionary Wing, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. He was in charge
of four groups and 16 squadrons and responsible for the wing's ground attack,
air superiority, air refueling, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,
air battle management, control and reporting centre, theatre security
cooperation and airlift missions in support of overseas contingency operations
in Southwest Asia.
"I am excited to lead this unique NATO Force into the future and I
look forward to working with the incredible team General Cantwell forged during
his tenure," said General Clark. "Together we will continue the success story
and further evolve this pivotal NATO capability that plays a critical role in our
collective security," he added.
The NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance Force operates and
maintains the AGS system comprised of five RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft and
the associated European-sourced ground command and control stations. The AGS
NATO RQ-4D aircraft has been uniquely adapted to NATO requirements to provide a
state-of-the-art ISR capability to all Allies.