NATO at 70: Alliance hailed at rain-soaked birthday parade
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been praised as a 'pillar of stability' – as events have been held in Gloucester to mark the Alliance's 70th anniversary.
Heavy rain failed to dampen a special birthday parade at the home of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) on the day that NATO turned 70.
Addressing the multinational troops on the parade square, the Commander of the ARRC, Lieutenant General Tim Radford, said: "NATO is an alliance united by shared history, shared values and shared goals. Together we work to prevent conflict and to preserve peace."
And in a period of evolving security challenges, he added that "NATO will remain a pillar of stability in an uncertain world."
Over 400 troops witnessed the colourful event, which saw all 23 nations serving with the UK-led NATO headquarters on parade under their respective nation's flag and in the different uniforms of their own country.
The General told them: "Our competence is strengthened further by our diversity; each nation bringing with it a particular and unique contribution."
The Royal Artillery Band played on through the drenching April shower – as the troops were treated to renditions of the little-heard 'NATO Anthem' and the 'Allied Rapid Reaction Corps March'.
Speaking after the parade, the Deputy Commander, Major General Maurizio Boni of the Italian army, added: "So today it was raining, a very heroic atmosphere, ideal to celebrate such an important event. "
Earlier in the week, senior officers from across NATO had gathered at Gloucester to discuss 'Corps-level operations' as part of the events to mark the 70th anniversary.
Meanwhile a delegation of multinational staff from the ARRC's headquarters had travelled to central London to recreate a historic photo – taken in NATO's first headquarters in Belgrave Square, today used as the Ghanaian Embassy.
Finally, invited guests, including the Member of Parliament for Gloucester Richard Graham, attended a dinner night in the Officers' Mess to celebrate NATO's birthday. At it, the head of the British military, Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter, said: "It is remarkable how the Alliance has grown, but we also need to think hard about the next steps and how we modernise to meet the threats of the future.
"This organisation (the ARRC) has always been a 'thought-leader', at the forefront of NATO thinking and contributing to how we might refresh the Alliance."
The ARRC has a rich heritage and a long association with NATO– the most successful military alliance in history.
In 1999, the ARRC led the intervention of ground forces into Kosovo, and in 2006 it provided the first NATO headquarters to command the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. And at the end of this year it will be assigned as the first NATO warfighting corps HQ to be held at readiness since the Cold War.
Story by Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Public Affairs Office