NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg participated in the Change of Command at Allied Command Transformation in the United States on Thursday (23 September 2021) . At the ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia, General Philippe Lavigne of the French Air and Space Force took over from General André Lanata as Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, one of NATO’s two strategic commanders.
The Supreme Allied Commander Transformation leads the transformation of NATO’s military structures, forces, capabilities and doctrines in order to improve the military effectiveness of the Alliance, and makes recommendations to NATO’s political and military authorities.
The Secretary General said: “France is a strong and highly valued NATO Ally, with cutting edge capabilities and highly professional forces. For over a decade, France has nominated its best officers to take this command.” He praised both General Lanata and General Lavigne as “great leaders committed to our transatlantic Alliance.”
Mr Stoltenberg highlighted the important work of Allied Command Transformation in helping adapt NATO to new challenges, including emerging disruptive technologies: “For NATO to be future-proof, we need to keep up with the rapid pace of technological change. Accelerate innovation, so that we remain competitive and retain our edge.”
In recognition of General Lanata’s contribution to the Alliance, the Secretary General presented him with the NATO Meritorious Service Medal.
- ACT is one of two Strategic Commands at the head of NATO’s military command structure. The other is Allied Command Operations (ACO), which is responsible for the planning and execution of all NATO military operations.
- ACT leads the military adaptation of the Alliance, coordinating national efforts to ensure coherence and assure interoperability, ensuring that NATO has the right Military Instrument of Power to help guarantee the freedom and security of its members.
- It improves the readiness and credibility of NATO’s posture and helps the NATO Command Structure (NCS) to efficiently command, control and support current and future military operations, and provides a secure and stable transition to crisis and conflict, if need be.
- ACT is headed by the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), who exercises his responsibilities from headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, United States.
- SACT is responsible to the Military Committee for the transformation and development of the Alliance to ensure it is capable of meeting the challenges of today and tomorrow. The Military Committee is the senior military authority in NATO and is under the overall political authority of the North Atlantic Council.
- This Strategic Command directs various subordinate Joint Commands and has strong links with education and training facilities, as well as with ministries of defence.
- ACT is also closely connected with the NATO Force Structure (NFS) in general, which consists of forces placed at the Alliance’s disposal by the member countries, along with their associated command and control structures.
ACT is comprised of the Norfolk Headquarters and three subordinate entities: the Joint Warfare Centre in Norway, the Joint Force Training Centre in Poland and the Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre in Portugal.
The Headquarters of Allied Command Transformation
The Headquarters of Allied Command Transformation is located in Norfolk, Virginia in the United States. Led by General Philippe Lavigne, a French Air and Space Officer, it acts as a physical symbol of the transatlantic security bond. The Headquarters has a diverse workforce of approximately 750, who are either from the civilian sector, the military (naval, air force, army), or the military police. It is structured into four directorates:
- Strategic Policy and Plans defines the future context, outlines the implications for the Alliance’s military and leads defence planning in response;
- Capability Development is the Alliance’s capability requirements authority that manages the delivery of modern, common-funded capabilities (from the moment a need is identified to when a new capability is entirely produced) and leads the innovation effort within the Alliance;
- Joint Force Development is the engine room of warfare development, applying concepts, lessons, modelling and simulation, operational experimentation and human capital to improve interoperability and enhance capabilities; and
- Resource Management provides the human resources and the financial and business service support to ACT.
Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway
The Joint Warfare Centre’s (JWC) main task is to train Allied forces at the operational level to ensure they remain interoperable and fully integrated. Its principal mission is the training of the NATO Response Force (NRF) Headquarters’ elements and NRF Component Headquarters’ elements. In addition, it performs collective staff training for partner countries and new NATO members.
The JWC also seeks to improve NATO’s capabilities and interoperability by promoting and conducting NATO’s joint and combined experimentation, analysis and doctrine development processes.(2)
Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland
The Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) focuses on joint and combined training of Allied and partner forces at the tactical level. It focuses, in particular, on the conduct of tactical training to achieve joint interoperability at key interfaces – a critically important area identified during military combat in Afghanistan.
As a priority, the JFTC provides expertise to help NATO Response Force (NRF) joint and component commanders ensure that each NRF rotation achieves a high level of interoperability, flexibility and extensive training so as to be combat-ready at the beginning of a cycle of duty.
The Centre cooperates with national training centres, including Partnership for Peace (PfP) Training Centres and Centres of Excellence to ensure the application of NATO standards and doctrine in combined and joint fields.
Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre in Monsanto, Portugal
The main role of the Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) is to reinforce the process of continuous improvement of concepts, doctrine and capabilities within NATO through the transformation process, based on lessons learned from operations, training, exercises and experimentation. As such, the JALLC conducts the analysis of real-world military operations, training, exercises and NATO Concept Development and Experimentation collective experiments, and is responsible for establishing and maintaining a lessons learned database.
In addition to the Headquarters in Norfolk and the three subordinate entities, ACT also maintains a presence at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and at the Pentagon outside Washington D.C., as well as an ACT Staff Element at the ACO Headquarters – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, or SHAPE, in Mons, Belgium.