At a low key but dignified ceremony held in the EUMS premises on 30 Jun 2020, Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean (FR) assumed command of the EU Military Staff and the Military Planning Conduct Capability from his predecessor Lieutenant General Esa Pulkkinen (FI). Normally such an occasion would be marked by a formal public military parade with many distinguished guests and military bands but owing to COVID-19 today's event was minimalist in terms of pomp and ceremony but no less important for that.
General Pulkkinen, one of eight original ‘founding fathers’ of the EUMS was marking the end of 10 years aggregate service with the EUMS in a variety of capacities including the last four years as Director General of the EUMS and since June 2017, double hatted as the first Director of the MPCC and Commander of the EU’s non-executive military training missions in the Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia. In recognition of his outstanding contribution General Pulkkinen was awarded the EU's CSDP Medal for Extraordinary Meritorious Service. In wishing every success to Admiral Bléjean, General Pulkkinen also recalled the efficient and effective progression of the many new EU defence initiatives during his term and thanked all members of the EUMS and MPCC for their hard work and dedications saying "your work has been profound and precise in meeting the staff's mission; from the analysis provided in intelligence briefings, to logistical inputs for Operational planning and the products feeding into the capability development domain, they have served to progress the strategic priorities. All these elements serve to defend our European interests and values.
The Chairman of the European Union Military Committee (CEUMC), General Claudio Graziano and the Chairperson of the Political Security Committee, Ms. Sophie From-Emmesberger also paid tribute to General Pulkkinen and wished him and his wife Hanna every success in the future.
Vice Admiral Bléjean is no newcomer to EU CSDP having previously served in very senior roles with two EU naval operations; EU NAVFOR Atalanta and EUNAVFOR Med, Op Sophia and is also double hatted as Director General of the EUMS and Director MPCC. Paying tribute to General Pulkkinen and thanking him for an excellent handover Admiral Bléjean wished General Pulkkinen "fair winds and following seas".