Allied Command Atlantic

Allied Command Transformation

Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is a military command, which was originally formed in 1952 as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Allied Command Atlantic 1952 - 2003

Allied Command Transformation was initially formed as Allied Command Atlantic at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1952. It was usually known as SACLANT, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, after the military abbreviation for its commander-in-chief. It was established to guard the sea lanes 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. For many years, it consisted of two major commands, WESTLANT and EASTLANT, based on the commanders of the US Atlantic Fleet and the Royal Navy's Commander-in-Chief Fleet.

Command Structure 1982

Source: IISS Military Balance 1981-82, p.26

  • Eastern Atlantic Command (EASTLANT) HQ Northwood, UK
    • Maritime Air Eastern Atlantic
    • Northern Sub-Area
    • Maritime Air Northern Sub-Area
    • Central Sub-Area
    • Maritime Air Central Sub-Area
    • Submarine Force Eastern Atlantic
    • Island Commander Iceland
    • Island Commander Faeroes

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. From 1994, Allied Command Atlantic was divided into three geographical command areas: the Western Atlantic, the Eastern Atlantic and the South Atlantic. Within this framework, from 1994 until 2003 there were five major subordinate commanders, directly responsible to SACLANT. They were Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Atlantic Area (CINCEASTLANT) in Northwood/London, United Kingdom; Commander-in-Chief, Western Atlantic Area (CINCWESTLANT) in Norfolk, Virginia, United States; Commander-in-Chief, Southern Atlantic Area (CINCSOUTHLANT) in Oeiras/Lisbon, Portugal; and Commander Striking Fleet, Atlantic (COMSTRIKFLTLANT) and Commander, Submarines Allied Command Atlantic (COMSUBACLANT) both located in Norfolk, Virginia. CINCWESTLANT directed SubWestLant, the Ocean Sub-Area, the Canadian Atlantic Sub-Area, and the Greenland Island Commander. Also included in the area of responsibility are the island commands of the Faeroes, the Azores, Madeira, Greenland, Bermuda and Iceland. However, the basic structure remained in place until the Prague Summit in the Czech Republic in 2002.

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.

As NATO becomes a global entity, ACT is intended to contribute to preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of the alliance's 26 member states by leading the 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.

ACT Organisation

Headquarters Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (HQ SACT)

HQ SACT is the physical headquarters of NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), General James Mattis, and houses the command structure of NATO's Allied Command Transformation (ACT). It is located in Norfolk, Virginia, in the United States.

Consistent with North Atlantic Council priorities and objectives, the headquarters' function is -

  • HQ SACT provides the conceptual framework for the conduct of future combined joint operations
  • Defines how future operations will be conducted and the capabilities they will need
  • Takes new operational concepts, from others or self-generated, assesses their viability and value, and brings them to maturity through doctrine development, scientific research, experimentation and technological development
  • Implements both by persuading nations individually and collectively to acquire the capability, and provides the education and training, enabling concepts to be implemented by NATO forces

Since Allied Command Atlantic became Allied Command Transformation, commanders have included non-naval officers, including the current Marine Corps officer. The Deputy SACT position is currently filled by Admiral Luciano Zappata of the Italian Navy.

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.

Transformation Directorate

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

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

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. As well as being co-located with United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) in Norfolk, Virginia, there is also 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, various NATO Schools, and various Centres of Excellence. 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

NATO has a total of 17 Centres of Excellence (COEs), essentially multinational research, development, and evaluation bodies. Their activities with NATO are coordinated through HQ ACT. The Organization says they 'provide recognised subject matter expertise in support of transformation and interoperability, especially in the fields of doctrine and concept development and validation, training, education and exercises, as well as analysis and lessons learned.'

They are funded nationally or multinationally and have individual relationships with NATO formalized through memoranda of understanding.

NATO has nine fully accredited COEs.

and eight not fully accredited COEs:


Further reading

  • Maloney, Sean M. Securing Command of the Sea: NATO Naval Planning, 1948–1954. Naval Institute Press, 1995. 276 pp.

External links

Search another word or see Allied Command Atlanticon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature