I have been really privileged this year to meet many NATO soldiers, men and women in uniform, around the world.
Here at NATO Headquarters, we take many important decisions every day. But it is you who provide safety and security for all of us. And we are truly grateful.
I started the year by visiting our troops in KFOR, our longest mission.
They have helped to make Kosovo safer for all those who live there. And helped to make the Western Balkans more stable. This is a success story.
In Afghanistan, our troops now provide training, advice and assistance to the local security forces. This is a non-combat mission, but it remains a tough mission. And it remains vital for our security here at home.
I have also met many of our troops during key exercises. From the east to the south of our Alliance. From Poland to Portugal.
I saw their tremendous skills and dedication in the first deployment of our new Spearhead Force. In our biggest exercise in over a decade. And in the opening of our new small headquarters in eastern Europe.
We also depend on our soldiers and military personnel in many other places. From the Baltic, to the Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian Ocean.
Together, we send a clear message. NATO does not seek confrontation with anyone. But we stand ready to defend all Allies against any threats.
As we come to the end of the year, we remember how fortunate we are to live in open societies. And to enjoy peace and freedom.
So let me express my gratitude to you, the men and women who serve under the NATO flag.
Thank you for keeping us safe. And for safeguarding our values.
We always keep in our thoughts those who sacrificed their lives. Those who suffer from wounds, visible and invisible.
We thank them for their service. And we are grateful for their families and loved ones.
Wherever you may be, stay safe.
I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a peaceful New Year.
L. J. De Rothschild