Updated: 19-Jun-2003 NATO Speeches


19 June 2003


by the Secretary General of NATO, Lord Robertson
at the ceremony to the Commission
of the New Allied Command Transformation

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is a unique ceremony. Because we are not only welcoming a new commander – we are also changing fundamentally the very nature and purpose of this strategic headquarters. Indeed, we are creating a new organisation all together. That, in the history of this great Alliance, makes this a very special day.

Our first task is to thank the man who has led Allied Commander Atlantic since last October – Admiral Sir Ian Forbes. Admiral Forbes, your predecessor, General Kernan, once described Allied Command Atlantic as NATO’s bridge to the future. When you took command of this headquarters, you vowed to continue that mission. You have done so and with true distinction. Your staff here at Norfolk has nothing but the highest praise for the work you have done here. That is an most important testimonial.

Let me add my own thanks, and congratulations, for the important work you have done here since January 2002, first as Deputy and then as Acting Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. You have provided sound leadership in Norfolk through a critical period of concluding SACLANT’s successful mission and defining the role – and I might add, daring role – this new command will play in the Alliance. We will continue to value your leadership as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation.

Admiral Giambastiani – or Admiral “G”, as you are already known here – this is your first day on the job. But you have already made history, as the first commander of the new Allied Command Transformation. This is an honour that is well deserved. I would like to congratulate you, as well, on this appointment.

In the coming years, Admiral, you will have a key role to play in shaping NATO’s transformation. It is a transformation that has already begun, and the establishment of this Command – ACT – is proof positive.

ACT will shape the future of combined and joint operations. It will identify new concepts, and bring them to maturity. It will then turn these transformational concepts into reality; a reality shared by the entire NATO Alliance. And it will do so in close cooperation with the US Joint Forces Command co-located here, to ensure that NATO’s transformation stays in lock step with the changes taking place in the United States.

Indeed, the creation of a new permanent command here in Norfolk – one dedicated solely to transformation – demonstrates the investment NATO is making in preparing itself for 21st century operations.

This Command underscores NATO nations’ commitment to a continuous, permanent process of transforming and modernising our armed forces.

ACT is, in a very real sense, both the symbol of the new NATO, and the architect that will shape its future. It will play an invaluable role in ensuring that the Atlantic Alliance can continue to defend the security and interests of its members against threats and challenges which we cannot even imagine today.

ACT is a symbol of this Alliance’s confidant embrace of the future and its challenges.

Admiral Giambastiani, as I said last week to NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels, your new title, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, means that you more than anyone else will personify the critical importance this Alliance places on transforming its capabilities for the 21st century. An awesome responsibility. But welcome nevertheless to the NATO family.

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