NATO Command Looks to Greater Partnerships

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2011 — As U.S. Joint Forces Com­mand pre­pares to dis­band with­in the next few months, the com­man­der of NATO’s Allied Com­mand Trans­for­ma­tion — his­tor­i­cal­ly one of Joint Forces Command’s clos­est part­ners — is prepar­ing to expand his col­lab­o­ra­tion to a broad­er range of U.S. mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tions.
“My impres­sion is that with the dis­es­tab­lish­ment of JFCOM, the work between the U.S. defense insti­tu­tion and ACT will increase, as opposed to the past,” French Air Force Gen. Stephane Abr­i­al, supreme allied com­man­der for trans­for­ma­tion, told reporters this week.

NATO estab­lished Allied Com­mand Trans­for­ma­tion in June 2003 to pro­vide the con­cep­tu­al frame­work for com­bined joint oper­a­tions, and stood it up in Nor­folk, Va., where it col­lo­cat­ed with Joint Forces Com­mand. Until 2009, the com­man­der of Joint Forces Com­mand also was the ACT com­man­der.

That changed when Abr­i­al suc­ceed­ed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mat­tis as NATO supreme allied com­man­der trans­for­ma­tion in June 2009. Abr­i­al, for­mer French Air Force chief of staff, became the first non‑U.S. offi­cer per­ma­nent­ly assigned as one of NATO’s two supreme allied com­man­ders.

The sep­a­ra­tion actu­al­ly strength­ened the two com­mands’ rela­tion­ship, Abr­i­al said, with both work­ing to insti­tu­tion­al­ize it at all lev­els.

“The result, one year lat­er, was the two com­mands had nev­er worked that close­ly togeth­er,” he said.

Abr­i­al said he expects to con­tin­ue that lev­el of col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, which is expect­ed to absorb the bulk of Joint Forces Command’s func­tions, and relat­ed DOD enti­ties.

A “good por­tion” of Joint Forces Com­mand activ­i­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly those deal­ing with mod­el­ing and sim­u­la­tion, will remain in place in Nor­folk and Suf­folk, Va., Abr­i­al said. The French gen­er­al said he expects those involved with those activ­i­ties would “con­tin­ue work­ing close­ly on a day-to-day basis with my capa­bil­i­ties devel­op­ment divi­sion.”

Mean­while, with oth­er Joint Forces Com­mand func­tions to be dis­trib­uted across the Defense Depart­ment, Abr­i­al said ACT has start­ed look­ing at “how we will re-plug into this much more dis­trib­uted sys­tem.”

He empha­sized, how­ev­er, that “work­ing in a dis­trib­uted envi­ron­ment won’t be total­ly new” for ACT. It already has close work­ing rela­tion­ships with a vari­ety of defense enti­ties, he said, includ­ing U.S. Cyber Com­mand and the Joint Impro­vised Explo­sive Device Defeat Orga­ni­za­tion, known as JIEDDO.

“We have many [such rela­tion­ships],” Abr­i­al said. “We will have more. It could be com­pli­cat­ed, but not a dif­fi­cul­ty.”

Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates announced in August his rec­om­men­da­tion to elim­i­nate Joint Forces Com­mand and trans­fer its essen­tial func­tions to oth­er orga­ni­za­tions. Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma approved the rec­om­men­da­tion in Jan­u­ary, and Gates signed a mem­o­ran­dum Feb. 9 pro­vid­ing guid­ance and direc­tion to exe­cute the dis­es­tab­lish­ment.

Army Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no, com­man­der of Joint Forces Com­mand, offered assur­ance that day that the dis­es­tab­lish­ment plan would pre­serve gains made by his orga­ni­za­tion and its rela­tion­ship with ATC.

“We’ll ensure that we sus­tain the momen­tum and gains in joint­ness, while main­tain­ing inter­ac­tion with NATO, specif­i­cal­ly Allied Com­mand Trans­for­ma­tion, and oth­er multi­na­tion­al part­ners,” Odier­no said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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