NATO’s new Atlantic Command was declared operational in a ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia on Thursday (17 September 2020). Joint Force Command Norfolk, established to protect sea lanes between Europe and North America, is the first NATO headquarters dedicated to the Atlantic since 2003.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the milestone, saying: “NATO is a transatlantic Alliance and the North Atlantic is vital for the security of Europe. Our new Atlantic Command will ensure crucial routes for reinforcements and supplies from North America to Europe remain secure.”
Co-located with the US Second Fleet, the Atlantic Command is led by US Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis. It will provide coherent command arrangements for Allied forces, maintain situational awareness, conduct exercises, and draw up operational plans covering vast geographic areas, from the US East Coast, past the Greenland-Iceland-U.K. gap and into the Arctic. Day-to-day NATO maritime operations will continue to be run out of Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in the United Kingdom.
NATO Defence Ministers decided in June 2018 to adapt the Alliance’s command structure with a new Atlantic command in Norfolk, and a command for support and logistics in Ulm, Germany. Joint Force Command Norfolk joins NATO’s two existing Joint Forces Commands, located in Brunssum, Netherlands, and Naples, Italy.