MONS, Belgium — On 10 December 2012, General Werner Freers became the Chief of Staff of NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), assuming these duties from General Manfred Lange.
Ceremonies honouring General Lange and welcoming General Freers were presided over by Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
General Freers, a German Army officer with over 39 years of experience, is joining SHAPE after recently serving as the Chief of the German Army. He has extensive previous experience with NATO including two deployments in support of the ISAF mission.
"I congratulate General Freers on this significant appointment and I am looking forward to working with such an accomplished and experienced officer,” said Admiral Stavridis. "The position of Chief of Staff is absolutely vital to any commander in assisting with the coordination of NATO’s daily operations around the globe,” he said. "Such a job requires a special set of skills and abilities, and I have the utmost confidence that General Freers is up to the challenge.”
General Lange, a German Air Force Officer, is retiring after two and a half years in his current position and following a distinguished career of 42 years.
"General Lange has been instrumental in helping manage the more than seventy thousand military and civilian personnel across three continents that comprise SHAPE. Throughout intense operations in Afghanistan, Libya, the Mediterranean Sea, off the Horn of Africa, and the Balkans, his service has been exemplary, and stands as a credit to his home country Germany and to all of NATO,” said Admiral Stavridis. "Perhaps General Lange’s greatest challenge was to oversee the implementation of NATO’s transformation to a more streamlined military structure, which will be his lasting legacy of positive change here. General Lange has been and always will be a trusted colleague and friend.”
Prior to assuming the position of Chief of Staff, General Lange was Deputy Chief of Staff of the German Air Force in Bonn. He also previously served as Deputy Chairman of NATO's Air Defence Committee and of the NATO Air Command & Control Management Organization (NACMO) Board of Directors at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.
He will retire to his home in northern Germany and will continue to work on his farm.
"It has been an honour to serve as Chief of Staff of SHAPE during the last three years,” said General Lange. "I would like to offer my sincere thanks and best wishes to all the dedicated personnel working within Allied Command Operations. You have made my time here in Belgium truly special,” he said.