After the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Prague, Czech Republic, in 2002 the by then expanding military bloc, one which within only a few years would grow from 16 members when the Soviet Union fragmented to 70 members and nations on six continents, announced the creation of a NATO headquarters in the U.S. Thereafter NATO’s new Allied Command Transformation (ACT) was established at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads in Norfolk, Virginia. The U.S. Naval Station Norfolk, the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command headquarters, is in the same city. NATO portrays the relationship of its command to its host in this manner. Norfolk: NATO’s Home in North America.
At the summit in Prague it was determined that now global NATO – the bloc had conducted a 78-day air war against Yugoslavia, the first armed attack against a European nation since World War II, and had assumed control of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan by that time – needed to “acquire new types of equipment to face the operational challenges of coalition warfare against the threats of the new millennium.”
It has subsequently been employed for NATO air and ground wars and other missions from Afghanistan to Libya, Sudan to Somalia. the Mediterranean Sea to the Baltic and Black Seas to the Horn of Africa.
When the government of President Nicholas Sarkozy in France returned his country to NATO’s Military Command Structure in 2009 (reversing the action of Charles de Gaulle in 1966), France was rewarded for the act by being granted the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation post in perpetuity. (As NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe has always been an American going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe from Great Britain.)
Current Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General André Lanata recently hosted NATO’s 30-nation Military Committee in Norfolk. The visit had the “overarching aim of engaging the NATO Military Committee on Allied Command Transformation’s Warfare Development Agenda.”
Portraying history’s only international expeditionary military force as the victim of “state and non-state actors,” the command’s website said NATO “is expected to face challenges that will be increasingly persistent, boundless, and simultaneous,” particularly as said actors “will exploit multiple instruments of power to compete for advantage and seek to impose cognitive, virtual and physical effects against the Alliance.”
The NATO leaders deliberated over “jump-starters” like Audacious Wargaming. NATO’s description of the latter is polysyllabic gobbledygook of the first water but the name suggests something other than the benign and humanitarian cloak under which the bloc likes to hide when it’s not talking to its own. (For example, as when two days ago the military alliance held its “LGBTQ+ perspectives in the workplace” conference.)
A military bloc is not established to do anything else but conduct warfighting. This one does it unapologetically. Audaciously.