MONS, WAL, BELGIUM
Story by SFC Kelly Simon
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
SHAPE, Belgium – Command of Allied Forces North Battalion, U.S. Army NATO Brigade was transferred from LTC Frank F. Jefferson to LTC Gretchen J. Gardner on the Army’s 244th Birthday, June 14, 2019, at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe chapel in Mons, Belgium.
“In a unit such as this, you have to be creative and innovative to get after the mission, as well as have the ability to build long, lasting relationships,” said LTC Jefferson during his remarks to the Soldiers and Families of AFNORTH Battalion. He also said it was an honor to serve with such high caliber officers, non-commissioned officers and Soldiers and that his, “heart is always with AFNORTH and always will be.”
The reviewing officer for the ceremony was LTC Stefan King, the interim U.S. Army NATO Brigade Commander. “The tremendous leadership and initiative, paired with the balanced understanding of both operational and strategic, and I’ll also say national effects of your missions has resulted in the incredible readiness level of the U.S. service members stationed all across northern Europe,” LTC King said, continuing to praise the various community and professional development undertakings of LTC Jefferson during his time with AFNORTH Battalion. LTC King added that he looked forward to working with LTC Gardner and seeing her take the Battalion to new heights of success.
LTC Jefferson, an Adjutant General’s Corps officer and a native of Sandersville, GA, increased the Battalion’s readiness to over 95%, meaning that nearly the entire unit was deployable at a moment’s notice. He also organized and oversaw multiple joint training and social events, successfully integrating Soldiers and their Families into the Battalion, Brigade and NATO elements across northern Europe.
LTC Gardner, also an Adjutant General’s Corps officer from Springfield, VA, kept her remarks short saying she looked forward to working with the Soldiers, Families and NATO Allies throughout the Battalion’s footprint. “I’m confident that your reputation for excellence will continue to shine as we continue to build upon your past successes in all of our various locations across Europe,” LTC Gardner said.
The AFNORTH Battalion is responsible for the administrative care, readiness and training of more than 1,300 Soldiers and the well-being of their Families. The Battalion traces its roots to the USA NATO SHAPE Battalion activated in December 1950. Over the years the Battalion has undergone various changes resulting in the current configuration with Soldiers and units across 13 countries, 18 duty locations, and three time zones.