Mons, Belgium -- Lt. Col. Frank Jefferson Jr. assumed command of Allied Forces North Battalion from outgoing commander, Lt. Col. Michael Minaudo in a ceremony at SHAPE May 19.

Minaudo relinquished command after a two-year tenure that focused on meeting increasingly demanding readiness requirements for U.S. Soldiers assigned to 26 organizations across 13 countries during a time when NATO was increasing its readiness posture in response to Russian actions in Ukraine and elsewhere along NATO eastern boundary . Minaudo's next assignment is with the Army G-1 at the Pentagon.

"Roughly two years ago (Minaudo) came into an AFNORTH Battalion that was already performing at a high level, and was asked to push the battalion even further in meeting the more demanding readiness posture NATO was developing in response to Russian aggression," said Col. Jason Riley, U.S. Army NATO Brigade Commander. "Improving our readiness posture is the single most important thing that (Minaudo) and his team have done, and they have done it exceptionally well."

Jefferson, who comes to USANATO from U.S. Army Alaska where he served as the G-1, takes the reigns of a battalion that supports such NATO organizations as SHAPE, Joint Force Command, Brunssum and the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps. Increasingly high states of readiness required of these NATO organizations makes the individual readiness support mission of AFNORTH even more critical to the 28-nation alliance. Jefferson's resume, which includes service in multiple overseas commands, including time in the 2nd Infantry Division, has prepared him well for the European Theater, according to Riley, who noted that Europe is adopting the same "Fight Tonight" readiness motto as the 2nd ID in Korea.

"If readiness is the top priority, we've definitely got the right officer for the job," said Riley.