Guantanamo general sworn in as NATO military chief
Thu Dec 7, 10:49 AM ET
The US general formerly responsible for the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, officially took command of NATO forces at the alliance's military headquarters in Belgium.
General Bantz J. Craddock, once an advisor to outgoing US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was sworn in at a ceremony in Mons, southern Belgium, replacing outgoing NATO commander US General James Jones.
NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) is always an American.
Initially an armoured brigade officer, Craddock served in operation Desert Storm in Iraq before taking over the United States southern command based in Miami, whose area of responsibility covered the US naval base in Cuba.
In October, he appointed an army colonel to head a probe into allegations brought by a Marine paralegal of abuse of prisoners there.
European powers, including some of Washington's closest NATO allies, have strongly criticised Guantanamo, where many detainees have been held without charge for years.
Craddock, who is often called John, assumed the leadership of the United States European Command on Monday, also taking over from Jones.
European Command covers 93 countries in central and eastern Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East.
Jones was the first US Marine to lead NATO.
He took up his post on January 17, 2003 at a key point in NATO's history as it transformed from the West's Cold War military bloc to a more mobile force prepared to deal with terror threats.
"Im sure General Craddock is going to bring renewed energy and will do some great things. I envy the opportunity that hell have to come in at a very important time in the Alliance. I certainly wish him well," Jones said last month.
Jones, an astute military mind with remarkable political acumen, will retire next year after a 40-year military career but said he has no clear picture of what he wants to do in the future.
"Jokingly I say I have a short-term plan and a long-term plan. The short-term plan is to be home for Christmas, and the long-term plan is to be in the Caribbean by New Year's," he told reporters in Mons.