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Wreath laying ceremony in the presence of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and his wife, NATO permanent pepresentatives, and senior NATO officials, on Sept. 26, 2014. NATO photo.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said goodbye to the Alliance during a Sept. 26 farewell ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Jens Stoltenberg, former Prime Minister of Norway, will assume the secretariat on Oct. 1, according to a Sept. 26 NATO release. During Rasmussen’s tenure at NATO he oversaw simultaneous missions and operations on three continents, the 2010 adoption of the new Strategic Concept in Lisbon, the launch of the Smart Defense initiative, a move to strengthen the Alliance’s collective defense following Russian aggression in Ukraine and instability in the Middle East, and the adoption of a Readiness Action Plan. Rasmussen also oversaw the drawdown of NATO troops from Afghanistan and the subsequent concession of control of the mission to the Afghan security forces, as well as the 2011 mission in Libya. Calling his stint “the busiest and most challenging years for NATO,” Rasmussen thanked the ambassadors, delegations of the allied nations, and the staff for their efforts to strengthen NATO. “Anders brought a deep personal commitment to assuring a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace, based upon his unwavering commitment to the shared common values that bind us as allies: freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and the dignity of the individual,” said President Obama in a statement release Sept. 26.