ACT was created as part of a reorganisation of the NATO Command Structure in 2002. This was the first time in NATO’s history that a strategic command was solely dedicated to “transformation”, demonstrating the importance placed by Allies on the roles of transformation and development as continuous and essential drivers for change that will ensure the relevance of the Alliance in a rapidly evolving global security environment.
These functions are reflected in the composition of ACT, which is comprised of the Norfolk Headquarters and three subordinate entities: one in Norway (Joint Warfare Centre), one in Poland (Joint Force Training Centre) and one in Portugal (Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre). ACT also includes a SACT representative at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and at the Pentagon outside Washington D.C., an ACT Staff Element at the ACO Headquarters - Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe or SHAPE - and a shared Military Partnership Directorate (MPD) with ACO, also located at SHAPE.
Additionally, NATO’s other education and training facilities and nationally-run entities, which are not part of the NCS, also coordinate with ACT. This includes the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy, the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, the NATO Communications and Information Systems School, Portugal (from 2016 or 2017 – currently located in Italy), the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre, Greece, and the nationally-run Centres of Excellence. NATO Agencies also interact with ACT on matters of common concern.
Strategic Plans and Policy
The main responsibility of Strategic Plans and Policy is threefold: to develop and promote issues of strategic importance to transformation; articulate policies to direct Alliance transformation efforts; and support the development of NATO strategic-level concepts which clarify how transformation may be achieved.
This is a broad area which covers the entire capability development process, i.e., from the moment a need is identified to the production phase when a new capability is actually developed for the Alliance. Moreover, Capability Development provides a major contribution to the NATO Defence Planning Process improving interoperability, deployability and sustainability of Alliance forces. The Directorate focuses on science and technology, and maintains collaboration with industry to infuse innovative ideas and transformative principles into NATO capability development processes and products. In addition, it establishes and maintains a transformation network and constitutes a hub within the NATO organisation and between member countries to promote continuous reform of NATO forces, structures and processes.
Joint Force Training
Joint Force Training (JFT) directs and co-ordinates all ACT activities that are related to the conduct of individual and collective training and exercises. The aim is to continually provide the Alliance with improved capabilities and enable its forces to undertake the full spectrum of Alliance missions.
SACT Representative in Europe
The SACT Representative in Europe (SACTREPEUR) is located at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. As the name indicates, the SACTREPEUR represents SACT at NATO Headquarters, acting as SACT’s representative to the Military Committee and attending all relevant meetings – committee, working group or other. SACTREPEUR has the coordinating authority for all ACT engagements with NATO Headquarters and maintains strong links with the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) through his counterpart - the SACEUR Representative (SACEUREP) - also based at NATO Headquarters.
ACT Staff Element Europe
The ACT Staff Element Europe (SEE) is co-located with ACO in Mons, Belgium. It deals primarily with defence and resource planning issues, as well as implementation. In doing so, it interacts with different NATO entities: the International Military Staff and the International Staff at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, with ACO, other NATO bodies and agencies and individual Allies.
ACT Liaison Office to the Pentagon
To help enhance NATO transformation, this office promotes effective links and direct coordination between ACT and the US Joint Staff and other departments in the US military headquarters (Pentagon), located outside Washington D.C. Through strong links with US military entities, the office establishes and maintains working relations with other governmental and non-governmental bodies in and around Washington D.C.
Military Partnership Directorate
The Military Partnership Directorate (MPD) provides direction, control, co-ordination, support and assessment of military cooperation activities across the Alliance. It directs and oversees all non-NATO country involvement in military partnership programmes, events and activities and coordinates and implements NATO plans and programmes in the area of partnership. The MPD is shared with ACO and is located at SHAPE in Mons, Belgium with a Staff Element at HQ SACT in Norfolk, Virginia.
Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway
The Joint Warfare Centre’s (JWC) main task is to train NATO 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.
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.3
The JWC assists ACT’s work with new technologies, modelling and simulation. It also conducts training on and works at developing new concepts and doctrine for joint and combined staffs. In addition, it performs collective staff training for partner countries and new NATO members.
JWC assists ACO in evaluating joint force training and has formal links to both NATO agencies and national and multinational training centres.
Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz, Poland
The Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) focuses on joint and combined training of NATO 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.
The Centre provides support and expertise in the training of Alliance and partner forces, runs courses, conducts training and provides advice to a variety of audiences. It 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.
As a priority, JFTC provides expertise to help 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.
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, 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. It ensures that key factors and lessons identified are characterised and appropriate action is proposed. The JALLC therefore contributes directly to improving operations through the identification of shortfalls in capabilities by delivering relevant, timely and useable lessons learned products.