On 22 September LTC Christoph Kühn, German Air Force, officially handed over his command of the CSU Uedem to CPT Axel Haas, German Air Force. The ceremony took place at the CAOC (Combined Air Operation Center) in Uedem, Germany. In the presence of the NCI Agency General Manager, MGEN (rtd) Koen Gijsbers, some other erstwhile and current comrades/colleagues, family and friends of the outgoing and incoming commander,the Director of Service Operations, BGEN Luigi Tomaiuolo conducted the official ceremony and appointed CPT Haas as the new Commander.
LTC Kühn is well known within the NCI Agency by his nickname 'Duffy'. He started his last assignment in the NCSA Detachment Uedem in July 2010, and ended it on 22 September 2015 as Commander NCI Agency CSU Uedem, after transformation to the NCI Agency in July 2012. His main task as Commander was the establishment of the NATO Communications and Information Systems (CIS) support element within a multinational funded headquarters providing 24/7 operations spanning over a huge Area of Responsibility (AOR) in the vicinity of Russia. The manning started with just two people, and increased over time to more than 30 people according the peacetime establishment (PE). The new NATO command structure 2012 left only two common funded CAOCs within NATO. This required enhancements to the supported site and the data and voice links between all air entities involved in NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS). The planning, implementation, and support of these urgent requirements took significant work at the local level, too. New technology was introduced requiring technicians to be trained. The implementation paralleled with the establishment of NCI Agency; and the related changes in structure, processes and procedures. At the same time, the host nation of Germany still kept responsibility for the infrastructure at Uedem, including local network, audio/visual, and phone systems (as this was not yet transferred to NATO property). In 2014, all authority transferred from the German CIS support to NCI Agency; and the updated manning allowed induction of 24/7 on site support.
The entire time of LTC Kühn's appointment, the Air Command & Control System (ACCS) purchased for NATO and several nations under the management of AirC2 PO&S, kept his team and him busy as Uedem hosts the CAOC version as validation site. He personally played a major role in several working groups to get ACCS support ready for CAOC live operations, which shall finally be achieved in December 2015.
Late September 2012, LTC Kühn deployed to ISAF as Commander of Detachment ISAF HQ for six months. As part of a team under the lead of COL David Jenkins (now Commander CSU Brussels) he established the NCI Agency Sector ISAF, introducing the processes of static CIS support in theatre. As the ISAF HQ Detachment Commander, in location close to ISAF CJ6 in the centre of Kabul, he had to convince the customer on the benefits of the Agency on a daily basis. This caused him to liaise frequently with several flag officers on the compound.
During his deployment, he received an official national appreciation for his personality, leadership and contribution to the CIS support to COMISAF's mission. In 2014, he received two awards from the General Manager. One was connected to his involvement in the development process of the new ISPE. The second award was for outstanding leadership, requested by his unit and supported by his superior commander.
Change of Command Ceremony
During the Change of Command (CoC) ceremony, Chaplain Ralf Husky opened the ceremony with his blessing words. He spoke about family, soldiers and tasks and the important roles of that.
LTC Kühn began his speech emphasizing his motto, well known as Duffy´s motto, "Never lose your firm belief in the good" that was the driving factor of his motivation as a leader In particular, he thanked his whole team for the support to accomplish this mission, inclusive his wife Stefanie. "Without you, I would not be standing here", he stated with deep emotion. Italian Brigadier General Luigi Tomaiuolo praised Kühn´s team and his personality for the performance rendered during the build-up of the Unit from the very beginning.
CPT Haas highlighted in his speech the idea "We are not alone". Being proud and fully aware of his new demanding task, he thanked his superiors for the trust reposed in his person. The 32-years old officer is looking forward to his new assignment in the Lower Rhine region.
COL Klaus Bücklein, Chairman of the German Delegation in the Netherlands and LTC Kühn´s national supervisor, characterized him as an IT man who lives in his world, but doesn´t forget to care for his subordinates. His message to the new commander explained that NCI Agency's military members not only require IT know-how but also perform military skills and represent their nation in an international environment.
In his closing remarks, the General Manager of the Agency, as the Senior International Superior, recalled the words of the previous speaker showing the importance of having military within the NCI Agency. During his speech, he talked about the importance of NATO and about the performance level of his organization.
Before the traditional handover of the organizational flag was carried out, the General Manager awarded the Certificate of Appreciation to LTC Kühn.
Some of us will have the opportunity to visit 'Duffy' at his new post. After more than five years in Uedem in the flat Lower Rhine Area he is moving with his family to Bavaria to become Director CJ6 at NATO School Oberammergau close to the Alps to continue to work in a digital environment.
Following the official event, the guests were invited to a reception at a unique location. After a champagne reception in a 100-year old Cinema in Goch, the old boss said good bye with popcorn, nachos, beer and cola while watching a comedy movie on the early days of aviation in which different stereotypes of the nation are exaggerated.
We, the NCI Agency Family, would like to give a warm welcome to CPT Haas and his family. In addition, we wish LTC Kühn and his family all the best for the future and a good start in his new assignment.