Allied Command Transformation

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Allied Command Transformation
Allied Command Transformation Emblem
Active Since 19 June 2003
Country NATO / OTAN
Headquarters Norfolk, Virginia
Général Denis Mercier (French Air Force)

Allied Command Transformation (ACT; French: Le Commandement allié Transformation) 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. Since France rejoined the NATO Military Command Structure in mid-2009, a significant change took place where the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) is now a French officer. The first French Officer to serve as SACT was French Air Force General, Stephane Abrial, (2009–2012).


Allied Command Atlantic 1952 to 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.

After the Cold War

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. One strategic command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was focused on transforming NATO, while the other strategic command focused on NATO’s operations, Allied Command Operations (ACO/SHAPE). Initial reports about a NATO transformation command began to appear in July 2002.[2] ACT was formally established on June 19, 2003.

A suite of "Baseline for Rapid Iterative Transformational Experimentation" (BRITE) software was 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 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. General Stéphane Abrial, former chief of the French Air Force assumed command in 2009. French Air Force General Jean-Paul Paloméros replaced fellow Frenchman General Stéphane Abrial at the end of September 2012. On 30 Sep 2015 French Air Force General Denis Mercier succeeded General Paloméros.

The Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation position is currently filled by General Mirco Zuliani of the Italian Air Force. He succeeded General Mieczysław Bieniek of the Polish Land Forces, who had himself succeeded Admiral Luciano Zappata (Italian Navy)[3] and Admiral Stanhope. 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.[4]


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 presence on both sides of the Atlantic.[5] 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; and the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) in Monsanto, Portugal; NATO School Oberammergau, other NATO schools, and various Centres of Excellence.[6] 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 Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) each year to support scientific and experimental programs.

NATO Centres of Excellence

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 21.[7] 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 Military Command Structure, but their activities with NATO are coordinated through HQ ACT. Since COEs are predominantly multinational entities, most COEs are overseen by a Steering Committee (SC), that sets the Programme of Work and approves the Budget for the COE.[8][9] The SC consists of one voting representative of each Sponsoring Nation (SN) and a various number of observers. All decisions are made by consensus.


  • 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:


Supreme Allied Commander Transformation

No. Name Picture Began office End office
6 Général d'armée Aérienne Denis Mercier
(French Air Force)
Mercier SACT.jpg 30. September 2015
5 Général d'armée Aérienne Jean-Paul Paloméros
(French Air Force)
Jean-Paul Paloméros cropped.JPG 28. September 2012 30. September 2015
4 Général d'armée Aérienne Stéphane Abrial
(French Air Force)
General Stéphane Abrial 080524-f-1014w-154.jpg 9. September 2009 28. September 2012
3 General James N. Mattis (United States Marine Corps) James N. Mattis.jpg 9. November 2007 9. September 2009
2 General Lance L. Smith (United States Air Force) Lance L Smith.jpg 10. November 2005 9. November 2007
1 Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani (United States Navy) Admiral Edmund Giambastiani, photo portrait upper body.jpg 19. June 2003 19. June 2005

Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation

No. Name Picture Began office End office
5 General Mirco Zuliani
(Italian Air Force)
03. September 2013
4 General Mieczysław Bieniek
(Polish Land Forces)
Mieczysław Bieniek.JPG 29. September 2010 3. September 2013
3 Admiral Luciano Zappata (Italian Navy) Luciano Zappata and Alojz Šteiner.jpg 3. July 2007 29. September 2010
2 Admiral Mark Stanhope (Royal Navy) General Walter L. Sharp walks with Sea Lord Admiral, Sir Mark Stanhope.jpg 10. July 2004 3. July 2007
1 Admiral Ian Forbes (Royal Navy) 1. July 2002 10. July 2004


  1. "New NATO Transformation Command Established in Norfolk". American Forces Press Service. United States Department of Defense. 19 June 2003. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-09. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Colin Robinson, 'NATO's Command Structure Prepares for Shakeup', Center for Defense Information, 2 July 2002.
  3. Outgoing NATO deputy commander has seen growing pains, Virginian-Pilot, July 3, 2007
  4. List of seminars/conferences
  5. Allied Command Transformation, ACT History, accessed November 2012
  6. Nato Centres of Excellence
  7. Centres of Excellence
  8. [1][dead link]
  9. "7th Steering Committee Meeting". 2012-05-15. Retrieved 2014-06-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. verified September 2008

External links

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