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Allied Command Europe

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Allied Command Europe

Not to be confused with Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
175px

Coat of arms
Active 1951-present
Allegiance North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Location Paris, France (1951-1967)
Mons, Belgium (1967-present)
Motto Vigilia Pretium Libertatis, Latin for "The Price of Freedom is Vigilance".
Commanders
Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Philip M. Breedlove, USAF
Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Sir Richard Shirreff, British Army

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is the central command of NATO military forces. Since 1967 it has been located at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons,[1] but it had previously been located, from 1953, at Fontainebleau, France. From 1951 to 2003, SHAPE was the headquarters of operational forces in the European theatre (Allied Command Europe, ACE), but since 2003 it has been the headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO), controlling all allied operations worldwide.

SHAPE retained its traditional name with reference to Europe for legal reasons although the geographical scope of its activities was extended in 2003. At that time, NATO's command in Lisbon, historically part of the Atlantic command, was reassigned to ACO. The commanding officer of Allied Command Operations has also retained the title "Supreme Allied Commander Europe" (SACEUR), and continues to be a U.S. four-star general officer or flag officer who also serves as Commander, U.S. European Command.

History

An integrated military structure for NATO was first established after the Korean War raised questions over the strength of Europe's defences against a Soviet attack. The first choice for commander in Europe was U.S. Army General Dwight D. Eisenhower, as he had successfully directed the Allied landings and subsequent march into Germany during World War II,[2] amid many inter-Allied controversies over the proper conduct of the campaign in the western theatre. On December 19, 1950 the North Atlantic Council announced the appointment of General Eisenhower as the first SACEUR. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery moved over from the predecessor Western Union Defence Organization (WUDO) to become the first Deputy SACEUR, who would serve until 1958. Volume 3 of Nigel Hamilton's Life of Montgomery of Alamein gives a good account of Montgomery's exacting, tireless approach to improving the command's readiness, which however caused a good deal of bruised feelings in doing so. In establishing the command, the first NATO planners drew extensively on WUDO plans and personnel.


General Eisenhower arrived in Paris on January 1, 1951 and quickly set to work with a small group of planners to devise a structure for the new European command. The Planning Group worked in the Hotel Astoria in central Paris while construction of a permanent facility began at Rocquencourt, just west of the city, at Camp Voluceau.

In December 1950 it was announced that the forces initially to come under General Eisenhower's command were to be the Seventh United States Army in Germany, the British Army of the Rhine, with 2nd Infantry Division & 7th Armoured Divisions, to be bolstered by 11th Armoured Division and a further infantry division, three French divisions in Germany and Austria, the Danish, Belgian, and the Independent Norwegian Brigades in Western Germany, and the American and British garrisons in Austria, Trieste, and Berlin. Four days after Eisenhower's arrival in Paris, on 5 January 1951, the Italian defence minister, Signor Pacciardi, announced that three Italian divisions were to be formed as Italy's 'initial contribution to the Atlantic army’, and that these divisions would also come under Eisenhower's control.[3]

Initial command structure

On April 2, 1951 General Eisenhower signed the activation order for Allied Command Europe and its headquarters at SHAPE.[4] Headquarters, Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) was activated in Fontainebleau, France in 1953.[5] On the same day ACE’s subordinate headquarters in Northern and Central Europe were activated, with the Southern Region following in June.

By 1954 ACE's forces consisted of Allied Forces Northern Europe, at Oslo, Allied Forces Central Europe (Fontainebleau), Allied Forces Southern Europe (Paris/Naples) and Allied Forces Mediterranean at Malta.[6]

The commanders and commands in 1957 were:[7]

Plans and exercises

Four exercises were conducted in the ACE area during autumn 1952. Blue Alliance was a major allied air force exercise for the Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE) to achieve air supremacy over the Central European front and provide close air support to NORTHAG ground forces under the overall command of Lt. General Lauris Norstad, USAF.[8][9] Two 1952 central region exercises involved air-ground combined forces. Equinox was a major air-ground exercise involving French-American tactical air units and a French airborne infantry unit under the command of Général d'Armée Alphonse Juin, French Army. Holdfast was a major allied air-ground exercise involving 150,000 British Army of the Rhine, Dutch, Belgian and Canadian troops of NATO's Northern Army Group in coordination with the Allied Air Forces Central Europe. They maneuvered east of the Rhine River in the British Zone under the overall command of Lt. General Sir Richard Nelson Gale, British Army.[10][11][8][9] Finally, Rosebud involved ground maneuvers by the U.S. Seventh Army in the American Zone of Occupation of Allied-occupied Germany.[8]

The initial plans saw the defence of Western Europe from a Soviet invasion resting heavily on nuclear weapons ('Massive retaliation'), with conventional forces merely acting as a 'tripwire.'[12] The policy enunciated in Military Committee document MC14/1, issued in December 1952,[13] saw the defence of Germany as principally a delaying action, to allow a line of resistance to be established along the lines of the IJssel and Rhine rivers. The conventional forces would attempt to hold this line while the allied strategic air forces defeated the Soviets and their allies by destroying their economy and infrastructure.

What this strategy meant for the land battle in the central region was described for publicity purposes in January 1954 by then-Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Alfred Gruenther as:[14]

We have... an air-ground shield which, although still not strong enough, would force an enemy to concentrate prior to attack. In doing so, the concentrating force would be extremely vulnerable to losses from atomic weapon attacks... We can now use atomic weapons against an aggressor, delivered not only by long-range aircraft, but also by the use of shorter range planes, and by 280 mm. artillery... This air-ground team constitutes a very effective shield, and it would fight very well in case of attack.[14]

In 1957, SACEUR General Lauris Norstad, USAF, noting the numerical superiority of Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces over NATO ground forces, called for "about 30 divisions” to augment NATO’s central European front.[15] That year Allied Command Europe carried out Operation Counter Punch, which involved AFCENT forces on the European mainland, and two other major military exercises in September 1957. Operation Strikeback was a series of multilateral naval exercises that concentrated on NATO's eastern Atlantic/northern European flank. Operation Deep Water involved NATO carrier and amphibious assault forces operating along NATO's southern flank in the Mediterranean Sea.[16][17]

To improve alliance military readiness and integration, NATO continued to hold annual alliance-wide military exercises each autumn (FALLEX) that was jointly planned and executed by SACEUR and SACLANT forces.[18]

From 1967 however, under 'flexible response,' the aim became to build up conventional forces so that, if possible, nuclear weapons might not be needed. However it was made clear that first use of nuclear weapons might be necessary if the conventional defences were being overwhelmed. Eventually SACEUR was allocated planning control of a small number of US and British ballistic missile submarines,[19] and some 7,000 tactical nuclear weapons were deployed in Europe.[20]

Relocation to Belgium

One of the most significant events in the history of Allied Command Europe (ACE) was France’s withdrawal from NATO’s integrated military structure. This move forced SHAPE and several other ACE headquarters to leave French territory.[21] France's resentment over NATO’s military structure had been brewing for a number of years, as successive French governments had become increasingly incensed with Anglo-American domination of the command structure[22] and insufficient French influence. In February 1966 President Charles de Gaulle stated that the changed world order had "stripped NATO of its justification" for military integration, and soon afterward, France stated that it was withdrawing from the NATO military structure. SHAPE and all the other NATO installations, including NATO Headquarters and Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), were informed that they must leave French territory by April 1967.

Belgium became the host nation for both NATO's political headquarters and SHAPE. General Lyman Lemnitzer, SACEUR at the time, had hoped that SHAPE could be located near to NATO Headquarters, as had been the case in Paris, but the Belgian authorities decided that SHAPE should be located at least 50 kilometres from Brussels, NATO’s new location, because SHAPE was a major wartime military target.[23] The Belgian government offered Camp Casteau, a 2 km² Belgian Army summer training camp near Mons, which was an area in serious need of additional economic investment. In September 1966, NATO agreed that Belgium should host SHAPE at Casteau. SHAPE closed its facility at Rocquencourt near Paris on 30 March 1967, and the next day held a ceremony to mark the opening of the new headquarters at Casteau.

The drawdown of the British Mediterranean Fleet, the military difficulties of the politically-decided command structure, and the withdrawal of the French from the military command structure forced a rearrangement of the command arrangements in the southern region. Allied Forces Mediterranean was disbanded on 5 June 1967, and all forces in the south and the Mediterranean assigned to AFSOUTH in Naples.[24] This left SHAPE and Allied Command Europe with three commands: AFNORTH covering Norway and Denmark, AFCENT most of Germany, and AFSOUTH Italy, Turkey, Greece, and the rest of the southern region.

1970s and after

The headquarters' new home in Mons, Belgium, was the center of international attention from time to time as new Supreme Allied Commanders came and went, with one of the more notable being General Alexander M. Haig, Jr. Haig, who had retired from military service in order to serve as White House Chief of Staff for President Richard Nixon during the depths of the Watergate crisis, was abruptly installed as SACEUR after Watergate's denouement. A creature of habit, Haig took the same route to SHAPE every day – a pattern of behavior that did not go unnoticed by terrorist groups. On June 25, 1979, Haig was the apparent target of an assassination attempt in Mons, Belgium. A land mine blew up under the bridge on which Haig's car was traveling, narrowly missing Haig's car, but wounding three of his bodyguards in a following car.[25] Authorities later attributed responsibility for the attack to the Red Army Faction (RAF). Haig's successor, General Bernard Rogers, became somewhat of an institution in Europe as the former U.S. Army chief of staff occupied the office for nearly eight years; a brief outcry arose from the other NATO capitals when Rogers was slated for retirement by the U.S. administration in 1987.

SHAPE High School, a US Department of Defense Dependents high school (DoDDS) for grade 7-12 dependants of people associated with SHAPE, is in Casteau, north of Mons.

Command structure – 1982

Source: IISS Military Balance 1981-82, p. 25 ACE in 1986 had three major subordinate commands (MSCs), one each for Northern, Central, and Southern Europe, as well as smaller commands.

After much discussion within the Alliance, ACE's three-command system was reduced to two commands after 1996, one for north of the Alps and one for south of the Alps. The United States had wished to retain three commands, arguing that 'the span of control might be excessive.'[26] It was feared by Pentagon officials at the time that if the two-command structure was adopted, some functions at the MSC level would have had to be moved 'downward' in the new structure. But while the United States eventually had to give in on a reduction to two commands, it was successful in that a European officer was not placed in charge of the new southern command (now Allied Joint Force Command Naples), a move which France and Germany supported. Despite French President Jacques Chirac exchanging letters with Bill Clinton personally over the issue in September–October 1997,[27] the United States stood firm and today an American admiral remains in charge of the Naples command.[28]

An early retirement again disrupted the Mons headquarters in 2000 as General Wesley Clark was shunted aside in favor of Air Force general Joseph Ralston. Although the move was publicly characterized as a purely administrative move necessitated by Clark's approaching retirement and the lack of an open four-star slot for the highly respected Ralston [a reality which would have compelled him to either accept a temporary demotion to two-star rank or retire from the service], Clark's relief has been often seen as a slap at the general on the part of a Pentagon leadership that had been very much at odds with him during the Kosovo war the previous spring.[29]

In 2003, a French flag was set up in the SHAPE headquarters in Mons following the return, after almost forty years, of French military officers to the HQ.[30] Fifteen French military officers, including General Jean-Jacques Bart, work there, of a total amount of 1,100 personnel.[30] They are however considered as "inserted," and not as "integrated," as they cannot be ordered to move without previous French approval.[30]

Structure today

Today Allied Command Operations (ACO), is one of the two supreme commands of NATO (the other being Allied Command Transformation, ACT).

There are three main headquarters under Allied Command Operations:

Between 2003 and 2006, a new category of forces, the NATO Force Structure, was created, principally to improve the flexibility and reach of land forces. The structure incorporates six "NATO Rapid Deployable Corps headquarters,"[31] and two lower readiness land headquarters. Three naval headquarters are also part of this structure, with two other naval headquarters, contributed by France and the USA, also affiliated. Formed from October 2003, the NATO Rapidly Deployable Corps are designated High Readiness Forces (HRF), designed to be able to react on short notice. Although these forces can not deploy on five days warning like the NATO Response Force (NRF), they have a longer than 30 days sustainment capability in combat than the NRF.

The Multinational Corps Northeast (MNC NE) headquartered in Szczecin, Poland, is seen along with the downgraded Greek NRD, as the third echelon deployable force in the NATO rapid deployment capability. The Eurocorps HQ, in Strasbourg, France, is nominally an EU force with a technical agreement linking it to NATO.

Certification of the following High Readiness Forces (Maritime) Headquarters took place in 2004:[34]

Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), homeported at Gaeta, Italy, whose lead nation is the USA, is commanded by Commander United States Sixth Fleet, and is also part of the NATO Force Structure. STRIKFORNATO is the only command capable of leading an expanded maritime task force.[35] The final formation is Commander French Maritime Forces, initially aboard the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle but now aboard the amphibious ship Mistral. The French naval component is drawn from the Force d'Action Navale, the French Navy's surface fleet.

Island Commander, Iceland, remains in existence as a detachment of HQ ACO,[36] as does Allied Submarine Command, a NATO command based on the United States Navy's ComSubLant. A special operations coordination centre and an intelligence fusion centre have also recently been formed within SHAPE.

As more capable rapid reaction forces were established, earlier 'fire brigades,' including the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Mobile Force – Land (AMF(L)), were disbanded; AMF(L) was disbanded on 30 or 31 October 2002.[37]

SHAPE's Structure

In addition to this Allied Command Operations has at its disposal standing forces such as:

Airlift support for SACEUR's travels is provided by the USAF's 309th Airlift Squadron at Chièvres Air Base, Belgium.

Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR)

Since 2003 the Supreme Allied Commander Europe has also served as the head of Allied Command Europe and the head of Allied Command Operations.

Name Photo Branch Term began Term ended
1. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower U.S. Army April 2, 1951 May 30, 1952
2. General Matthew Ridgway U.S. Army May 30, 1952 July 11, 1953
3. General Alfred Gruenther 60px U.S. Army July 11, 1953 November 20, 1956
4. General Lauris Norstad 60px U.S. Air Force November 20, 1956 January 1, 1963
5. General Lyman Lemnitzer U.S. Army January 1, 1963 July 1, 1969
6. General Andrew Goodpaster 60px U.S. Army July 1, 1969 December 15, 1974
7. General Alexander M. Haig, Jr. U.S. Army December 15, 1974 July 1, 1979
8. General Bernard W. Rogers U.S. Army July 1, 1979 June 26, 1987
9. General John Galvin U.S. Army June 26, 1987 June 23, 1992
10. General John Shalikashvili U.S. Army June 23, 1992 October 22, 1993
11. General George Joulwan U.S. Army October 22, 1993 July 11, 1997
12. General Wesley Clark U.S. Army July 11, 1997 May 3, 2000
13. General Joseph Ralston U.S. Air Force May 3, 2000 January 17, 2003
14. General James L. Jones U.S. Marine Corps January 17, 2003 December 7, 2006
15. General Bantz J. Craddock U.S. Army December 7, 2006 July 2, 2009
16. Admiral James G. Stavridis U.S. Navy July 2, 2009 May 13, 2013
17. General Philip M. Breedlove U.S. Air Force May 13, 2013 Present
[39]

Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Deputy SACEUR)

The position of deputy head of Allied Command Europe – since 2003 known as deputy head of Allied Command Operations – has been held by the following officers. From January 1978 until June 1993 there were two Deputy SACEURs, one British and one German, but from July 1993 this reverted to a single Deputy SACEUR.

Name Photo Branch Term began Term ended
1. Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery British Army April 2, 1951 September 23, 1958
2. General Sir Richard Gale British Army September 23, 1958 September 22, 1960
3. General Sir Hugh Stockwell British Army September 22, 1960 January 1, 1964
4. Marshal of the RAF Sir Thomas Pike Royal Air Force January 1, 1964 March 1, 1967
5. General Sir Robert Bray British Army March 1, 1967 December 1, 1970
6. General Sir Desmond Fitzpatrick British Army December 1, 1970 November 12, 1973
7. General Sir John Mogg British Army November 12, 1973 March 12, 1976
8. General Sir Harry Tuzo British Army March 12, 1976 November 2, 1978
9. General Gerd Schmückle German Army January 3, 1978 April 1, 1980
10. General Sir Jack Harman British Army November 2, 1978 April 9, 1981
11. Admiral Günter Luther German Navy April 1, 1980 April 1, 1982
12. Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Terry Royal Air Force April 9, 1981 July 16, 1984
13. General Günter Kießling German Army April 1, 1982 April 2, 1984
14. General Hans-Joachim Mack German Army April 2, 1984 October 1, 1987
15. General Sir Edward Burgess British Army July 16, 1984 June 26, 1987
16. General Sir John Akehurst British Army June 26, 1987 January 17, 1990
17. General Eberhard Eimler German Air Force October 1, 1987 October 2, 1990
18. General Sir Brian Kenny British Army January 17, 1990 April 5, 1993
19. General Dieter Clauss German Army October 2, 1990 July 1, 1993
20. General Sir John Waters British Army April 5, 1993 December 12, 1994
21. General Sir Jeremy Mackenzie British Army December 12, 1994 November 30, 1998
22. General Sir Rupert Smith British Army November 30, 1998 September 17, 2001
23. General Dieter Stöckmann German Army September 17, 2001 September 18, 2002
24. Admiral Rainer Feist German Navy September 18, 2002 October 1, 2004
25. General Sir John Reith British Army October 1, 2004 October 22, 2007
26. General Sir John McColl British Army October 22, 2007 March 2011
27. General Sir Richard Shirreff British Army March 2011 Incumbent

References

Further reading

  • Jordan, Robert S. Norstad: Cold War NATO Supreme Commander – Airman, Strategist, Diplomat St. Martin's Press, 2000. 350 pp.
  • Lt. Col. William A. Knowlton, Early Stages in the Organization of SHAPE, International Organization, Volume 13, No.1, Winter 1959
  • Jane's NATO Handbook Edited by Bruce George, 1990, Jane's Information Group ISBN 978-0-7106-0598-6
  • Jane's NATO Handbook Edited by Bruce George, 1991, Jane's Information Group ISBN 978-0-7106-0976-2

External links

NATO portal
  • Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe homepage
  • Historical page on the early history of SHAPE (from NATO's website)
  • Allied Command Operation SitRep
  • The New NATO Force Structure
  • Nato's new headquarters to cost €1 billion
  • History of SHAPE
  • Senior officials in the NATO military structure, from 1949 to 2001 PDF (32 KB)
  • NATO Flickr photostream

Coordinates: 50°30′01.6″N 3°58′59.7″E / 50.500444°N 3.983250°E / 50.500444; 3.983250

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