STUTTGART, Germany — Gen. Wesley K. Clark ended his tenure as head of the U.S. European Command at a ceremony Tuesday, at which Defense Secretary William S. Cohen praised him for helping rid Kosovo of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's "thugs."
Clark, who plans to retire soon, handed over the command flag to his successor, U.S. Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston. Ralston will also take over Clark's position as NATO's supreme commander in Europe in a ceremony today in Belgium. Clark has held both posts since July 1997.
"A year ago today, Serbian forces were on a rampage and nearly a million Kosovars had fled, threatening to overwhelm neighboring countries," Cohen said before the crowd of about 1,200.
"But because you responded, today Milosevic's thugs are out of Kosovo, the vast majority of refugees have returned, and neighboring nations are joining in efforts to rebuild that ravaged land," Cohen told Clark.
Clark commanded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during its 78-day air war against Yugoslav forces.