The Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) has a new Commander. On 30 September, Major General Norbert Wagner, German Army, took over the leadership of the NATO training centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland, from Major General Piotr Malinowski, Polish Army. The Change of Command ceremony was presided by Major General Lucas Muñoz Bronchales, the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation’s Representative in Europe.

As extraordinary as it may seem, this was the second Change of Command at JFTC in 2021. Major General Malinowski assumed the position on 30 June to continue and complete the Polish command over the Centre after his Polish predecessor had been appointed the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Army V Corps.

Farewell to Major General Piotr Malinowski

“Although we have worked together for only 3 months, I believe the value of this period is unquestionable. The staff continued the mission under a powerful leader, and you had a chance to see the way the JFTC conducts the business”, Brigadier General Jozsef Szpisjak, the JFTC Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff, stated in his farewell to the Commander during the internal ceremony at JFTC.

The time Major General Malinowski spent at JFTC was relatively short, yet extremely intense. Under his leadership, JFTC finalised preparations for and executed Steadfast Pyramid/ Pinnacle 2021 - NATO's operational planning exercises that gathered close to 50 commanders and senior staff officers from more than 20 nations. During this time the Centre also entered the final stage of preparations before the 2021 highlight - Exercise Steadfast Leda, planned later this year. Meanwhile, JFTC continued playing a key role in supporting NATO warfare development by active participation in interoperability testing events.

During the Change of Command ceremony, Major General Bronchales thanked the JFTC outgoing Commander for his contribution to the NATO Allied Command Transformation’s mission. “You led the Joint Force Training Centre through a very productive period”, said General Bronchales and added, “Congratulations on the work well done. On behalf of our new Strategic Commander, General Philippe Lavigne, thank you for your service and all the best for your new assignment”.

Major General Malinowski is completing his tour of duty as the JFTC Commander, but he is not leaving the NATO Allied Command Transformation’s family. He is now deploying to Stavanger, Norway, where he will assume the position of the Commander of JFTC’s sister command – NATO’s Joint Warfare Centre.

“I would like to say ‘thank you’ to all good people that I have met during my three-month stay here, in Bydgoszcz”, the outgoing JFTC Commander addressed his staff. “I came to this beautiful city and to the Joint Force Training Centre without any specific expectations and I found true friends and committed brothers in arms. What I have learned here will stay with me forever, as in many ways it was an eye-opening experience”.

Turning to his successor, Major General Malinowski said: “General Wagner, you have just taken command over a unit that is perfectly prepared for its tasks. It is a team of dedicated professionals who have built the well-deserved reputation of this institution. I am sure that together with them you will achieve a lot and take the organisation one step further. I wish you the best of luck in your new position”.

The New Commander

Addressing the new JFTC Commander, Major General Bronchales highlighted his broad experience, to include years of service in the German Ministry of Defence as well as training centres and commands. “I am sure that, as a tank officer, you will firmly move forward at a steady pace to the final victory in your new endeavour”, said General Bronchales and added: “I am convinced that under your leadership, Joint Force Training Centre will make true General Lavigne’s motto as Commander of Kabul International Airport – Win as a team”. Major General Norbert Wagner thanked for this advice and said: “I will remember this motto forever”.

The incoming JFTC Commander also addressed the staff and thanked his predecessor for his efforts for JFTC.

“General Malinowski, Piotr, thank you very much for the warm welcome my wife and I received from you, and the Host Nation Poland in this beautiful city of Bydgoszcz. Thank you as well, for the very professional change of command ceremony. It was a great day and I will remember it for the rest of my life”. The General also highlighted that he would use his forty-year military experience for the benefit of the Joint Force Training Centre, the Allied Command Transformation and the Alliance. Turning to the guests of the ceremony, he added: “I am really keen to meet and talk with you, so I could learn a little bit more about your perspectives, experience and thoughts”.

Before assuming the command over the Joint Force Training Centre, Major General Norbert Wagner was the Commander of the German Army Training Command. His broad military experience also includes international assignments. Major General Wagner deployed to the NATO mission in Kosovo and worked as Director of NATO Liaison and Advisory Team on multinational politico-military and military-strategic level in the rank of Brigadier General.

Read the full biography here.