Allied Command Transformation

Allied Command Transformation
Allied Command Transformation
Joint Command Lisbon.png

Allied Command Transformation Emblem
Active 19 June 2003-Present
Country NATO
Headquarters Norfolk, Virginia
Général d'armée aérienne Stéphane Abrial (French Air Force)

Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is a NATO military command, which was formed in 2003 after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation restructuring. It is intended to lead military transformation of alliance forces and capabilities, using new concepts such as the NATO Response Force and new doctrines in order to improve the alliance's military effectiveness.



Allied Command Atlantic 1952 - 2003

Allied Command Transformation was preceded by Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT) established in 1952 under the overall command of Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), with its headquarters at Norfolk, Virginia. ACLANT's purpose was to guard the Sea lines of communication between North America and Europe in order to reinforce the European countries of NATO with U.S. troops and supplies in the event of a Soviet/Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. Following the end of the Cold War, the Command was reduced, with many of its subordinate headquarters spread across the Atlantic area losing their NATO status and funding. However, the basic structure remained in place until the Prague Summit in the Czech Republic in 2002. This led to ACLANT being decommissioned effective 19 June 2003, and a new Allied Command Transformation being established as its successor.[1]

Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr. US Navy became the last SACLANT on 2 October 2002. He served as ACLANT commander until 19 Jun 2003. He then served as Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation, until 1 Aug 2005. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope RN, the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, then served as Acting Supreme Allied Commander until the arrival of General Lance L. Smith USAF in November 2005.

Post Cold War Changes

At the 2002 Prague Summit, it was decided that NATO should change its military structures and concepts, and acquire new types of equipment to face the operational challenges of coalition warfare against the threats of the new millennium. Thus NATO’s military command structure was reorganized with a focus on becoming leaner and more efficient, focusing one strategic command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), on transforming NATO, while focusing NATO's other strategic command on NATO’s operations Allied Command Operations (ACO/SHAPE). ACT was formally established on June 19, 2003.

In the wake of expanding NATO missions and areas of operations, the Cold War alliance has undertaken efforts to change and transform to meet contemporary threats to member nations. One such method called, "Baseline for Rapid Iterative Transformational Experimentation" (BRITE) develops new NATO capabilities. A suite of BRITE applications has been designed in response to the Maritime Situational Awareness request. This request, a product of a U.S. international and inter agency initiative termed "Maritime Domain Awareness," serves to counter threats to the contest maritime commons including terrorism, human/drug smuggling, piracy, and espionage.

Since Allied Command Atlantic became Allied Command Transformation, commanders have included non-naval officers. Gen. Lance L. Smith USAF commanded ACT from 10 Nov 2005 until 9 Nov 2007. He was succeeded by Gen. James N. Mattis USMC, who served from 9 Nov 2007 - 08 Sep 2009. A significant change was the assumption of command by a French officer, after France rejoined the NATO Command Structure in mid 2009. Up until that point, U.S. officers had held the position, including U.S. Marine General James Mattis. General Stéphane Abrial, former chief of the French Air Force assumed command in 2009.

The Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation position is currently filled by General Mieczysław Bieniek of the Polish Land Forces. He succeeded Admiral Luciano Zappata (Italian Navy), who in had himself succeeded Admiral Stanhope in July 2007.[2] For several years, in a carryover from SACLANT, the Deputy's position was filled by a Royal Navy admiral. Stanhope's succession by Zappata meant an end to this practice.


Allied Command Transformation's current mission is to:

  • provide the conceptual framework for the conduct of future combined joint operations;
  • define how future operations will be conducted and what capabilities they will need;
  • take new operational concepts, from others or self-generated, assess their viability and value, and bring them to maturity through doctrine development, scientific research, experimentation and technological development;
  • implement both by persuading nations, individually and collectively, to acquire the capability, and provide the education and training, enabling concepts to be implemented by NATO forces.

A large number of conferences and seminars have been organised by the command in fulfilment of its conceptual development mission. These have included CD&E, a national Chiefs of Transformation conference, an examination of the Global Commons, Law of Armed Conflict, and a Multiple Futures project.[3]


The command's headquarters is located in Norfolk, Virginia, in the United States. HQ SACT itself is organised into a command group, the Transformation Directorate, the Transformation Support Directorate, National Liaison Representatives, the Partnership for Peace Staff Element and Reservists responsible to HQ SACT.

The Transformation Directorate is headed by the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) Transformation who acts as the Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation’s (SACT) Director for guidance and coordination of the activities of his Directorate Transformation, divided in two divisions: Implementation and Capabilities. Within the full scale of SACT’s transformational responsibilities Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS) Transformation assist the Chief of Staff (COS) in the execution of his duties with emphasis on deliverables to the Alliance Military Transformation Process in order to enhance NATO’s operational capabilities and to meet NATO’s future requirements.

Implementation Division, led by Assistant Chief of Staff (ACOS) Implementation, is responsible for guidance and coordination of the activities of two Sub-Divisions, Joint Education and Training (JET) and Joint Experimentation, Exercises and Assessment (JEEA) as well as providing guidance for the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) and Joint Analysis Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC), in their efforts to enhance training programs, to path on breaking concept development and experimentation, to develop effective programs to capture and implement lessons learned and to press on common standards. This division probably serves as NATO's linkpoint to the annual U.S.-led Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration.

Capabilities Division, led by Assistant Chief of Staff (ACOS) Capabilities, is responsible for guidance and coordination of the activities of three Sub-Divisions of Strategic Concepts, Policy, and Coordination (SCPI); Future Capabilities, Research and Technology (FCRT) and Defence Planning (Def Plan) in their efforts to staff Capabilities, Concepts and Development products.

Subordinate Commands

Reflecting NATO as a whole, ACT has a worldwide presence.[4] Before the deactivation of United States Joint Forces Command, the two organisations were co-located, and indeed shared a commander for some time. There is an ACT command element located at SHAPE in Mons, Belgium. Additional subordinate commands include the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) located in Stavanger, Norway; the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) in Bydgoszcz, Poland; the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) in Monsanto, Portugal; and the NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC), La Spezia, Italy, NATO School Oberammergau, other NATO schools, and various Centres of Excellence.[5] These additional elements assist in ACT's transformation efforts. Under a customer-funded arrangement, ACT invests about 30 million Euros into research with the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) each year to support scientific and experimental programs.

NATO Centres of Excellence (COE)

As defined by NATO, a Centre of Excellence (COE) is a nationally or multinationally sponsored entity, which offers recognised expertise and experience to the benefit of the Alliance, especially in support of transformation. NATO has a total of 19.[1] It provides opportunities to enhance education and training, to improve interoperability and capabilities, to assist in doctrine development and/or to test and validate concepts through experimentation. A COE is not a part of the NATO Command Structure (NCS), but their activities with NATO are coordinated through HQ ACT.

NATO library has provided starting Sept 2011 a special NATO LibGuide on the topic NATO Centre of Excellences [2]


  • No duplication or competition with existing NATO capabilities
  • Nationally funded
  • Conforms to NATO procedures, doctrines, standards and security policies
  • Coordinated Programmes of Work provide guidance with inputs from both ACT and ACO organisations

NATO has the following fully accredited COEs:

NATO also has three not fully accredited COEs:


  1. ^ "New NATO Transformation Command Established in Norfolk". American Forces Press Service. United States Department of Defense. 19 June 2003. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  2. ^ Outgoing NATO deputy commander has seen growing pains, Virginian-Pilot, July 3, 2007
  3. ^, list of seminars/conferences
  4. ^ Allied Command Transformation, ACT History, accessed September 2007
  5. ^ Nato Centres of Excellence
  6. ^, verified September 2008

External links

Coordinates: 50°29′58″N 3°59′02″E / 50.49944°N 3.98389°E / 50.49944; 3.98389

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