STUTTGART, Germany (SFC Daniel Bailey) – U.S. Special Operations Command Europe service members joined together with family and friends during an Establishment Day Ceremony honoring the 59th Anniversary of SOCEUR, Jan. 22, at the Patch Barracks Movie Theater.
Hosted by the SOCEUR Commander, Maj. Gen. Brad Webb, more than 250 people attended the ceremony in celebration of SOCEUR’s origins in 1955 to today and beyond in support of U.S. European Command and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“There is a little bit of a theme about this thing this morning,” said Webb. “It’s about the past, it’s about the present and it’s about the future.”
Split into three parts the ceremony began by recognizing the past through a presentation highlighting key events in SOCEUR’s history and progressing to the unveiling of the dedication and renaming of the three main SOCEUR conference rooms.
“Something about SOF is we move at the speed of SOF, by and large, and very rarely do we take time to pause and reflect,” Webb explained about the renaming. “Certainly we have lineage, but we also have heritage. With those two things in mind I wanted to contribute to the heritage.”
The conference rooms previously referred to by generic acronyms were renamed the Jedburgh, Valentine and Carpetbagger rooms as chosen by the Army, Navy and Air Force components under SOCEUR.
The ‘Jedburgh Room’ was named after the Jedburgh Operation – A clandestine operation during World War II and a precursor to modern U.S. Army Special Operations Forces. The ‘Valentine Room’ was named Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas E. Valentine – a highly decorated Navy SEAL who served multiple combat tours receiving the Silver Star. The ‘Carpetbagger Room’ was named after Operation Carpetbagger – A WWII operation to deliver supplies to resistance fighters in enemy occupied European countries and the ancestor to today’s U.S. Air Force Special Operations.
In honoring the present day Webb joined by the SOCEUR Senior Enlisted Leader, Command Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Smith, presented awards and certificates to 12 service members and civilians recognizing them for their contributions to the current mission.
Webb spoke about the impact each individual brings in supporting the current mission and how SOCEUR as a Theater Special Operations Command, because of its strong history and location, is making major contributions to mission accomplishment of both the EUCOM and U.S. Special Operations Command commander’s priorities, making it a model for other TSOC’s to emulate moving forward.
“Significant, significant contributions by SOCEUR,” he said. “As the TSOCs go, this was kind of the model. This is by far the most mature. I think we are uniquely positioned as we move forward with Gen. (Phillip) Breedlove’s priorities for EUCOM and Adm. (William) McRaven’s vision of the Global SOF Network. SOCEUR, because of geography, because of the TSOC lineage and heritage, is absolutely rightly positioned to be really a swing component to enabling the fulfillment of our commanders’ visions; so for that I think we are absolutely special.”
“I think it’s appropriate we pause and reflect on the 59th birthday of SOCEUR, he concluded, “it has a very, very storied past, it’s got a robust present and it’s got a bright future in front of us.”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Webb and Smith took part in a cake-cutting followed by the senior officer and noncommissioned officer from each of the four services that comprise the headquarters staff. Each used cutting implements that best commemorated the spirit of the service they represent and wished SOCEUR a happy birthday.
SOCEUR’s story began when U.S. European Command’s commander-in-chief established Support Operations Command Europe in Paris on Jan. 22, 1955 to provide peacetime planning and operational control of special operations forces conducting unconventional warfare in the European Command area of responsibility. Later in 1955, European Command (EUCOM) re-designated the command as Support Operations Task Force Europe (SOTFE). In 1967, based on France’s withdrawal from NATO, SOTFE relocated from Paris to Panzer Kaserne near Stuttgart to better facilitate interaction with European Command. One year later, the SOTFE relocated five miles down the road to its current location on Patch Barracks. On May 30, 1986, it was confirmed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a subordinate unified command of EUCOM and the Commander assumed his current dual-hatted role as both the SOCEUR commander and the EUCOM Special Operations Director.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 and the disestablishment of the Warsaw Pact in 1991, the command shifted its focus from Soviet containment to hot spots around Europe, Africa and the Middle East. SOCEUR and its components have since planned and executed special operations during Operations Desert Storm, Provide Comfort and Provide Comfort II. In addition, the command has executed many operations not as publicly well known, such as Silver Anvil in Sierra Leone and Atlas Response in Mozambique just to name a couple. It has conducted Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations in locations such as Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Chad and Liberia as well. In the Balkans, SOCEUR forces participated in multiple named operations to include Joint Endeavor, Joint Guard, Allied Force and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, SOCEUR forces contribute to Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF SOF Task Force-10 in Afghanistan as well numerous missions and training events throughout the European Theater.