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NATO Strategic Commands

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: nato | otan | compass | international organization | isaf | shape | act |
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[Flag of NATO]
image by Željko Heimer

See also:


NATO military commands and some other organization also have flags. Almost all commands have their own flags (or banners), which have a great importance in all military units, and they have a special role during ceremonies held in occasions of changes of commanders. It is a subject of hand-over ceremony when former commander gives the flag into new commander's hand. It is a formal moment of transfer of his authority to new one.
All commands and other organizations has a badge or crest, generally it is placed on a monocoloured (blue, white, or green) flag as a command's flag. The official NATO military structure is a good base to introduce flags of various military commands, organizations and NATO-led military missions. More information on NATO structure:
Zoltan Horvath, 11 February 2010

During the 2002 Prague Summit, NATO's military command structure was reorganized with a focus on becoming leaner and more efficient. One Strategic Command was focused on NATO's operations - Allied Command Operations (ACO/SHAPE), and the other on transforming NATO - Allied Command Transformation (ACT).
Zoltan Horvath, 23 February 2010

NATO Allied Command Operations (ACO)

[NATO Allied Command Operations]
image by Zoltan Horvath, 23 February 2010

Allied Command Operations (ACO), formerly Allied Command Europe (ACE), located at Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe (SHAPE), near Mons, Belgium, and commanded by SACEUR. It is responsible for all Alliance operations wherever required. In NATO military structure ACO is only command with operational responsibilities at the strategic level. Its commander, the SACEUR is always an American Admiral or General, he leads all NATO military operations and is dual-hatted as Commander US European Command.
Flag of ACO is green with its crest in the center.
Some background information about its badge:
Home page:
Zoltan Horvath, 23 February 2010

NATO Allied Command Europe (SHAPE)

I found the badge needed at the website for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, so here's the flag for NATO's Allied Command Europe. Proportions are based on my estimate from seeing the flag outside the SHAPE liaison office in the Pentagon. The flag is trimmed with gold (not golden yellow) fringe. The motto translates as "Vigilance is the price of liberty."
Joe McMillan
, 22 May 2000

I've seen this flag listed in various flag books as the SHAPE flag, rather than as Allied Command Europe. Is there any distinction between the two entities?
Roy Stilling, 23 May 2000

SHAPE is the headquarters of ACE. I suppose that since the various components of ACE have their own flags, it is more correct to call this the flag of SHAPE. On the other hand, it is used to represent all of ACE, as shown in photographs of General Joseph Ralston, USAF, replacing General Wesley Clark, USA, as Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander in Chief, US European Command.
Joe McMillan, 23 May 2000

[NATO Allied Command Europe]
image provided by Bill Garrison, 29 August 2007

A green silk flag with center embroidered seal with motto "Vigilia Pretium Libertatis" and stars at four corners, measuring 36" x 52", and with a yellow fringe, was sold on eBay in 2007. Its provenance was the General Lyman L. Lemnitzer Collection.
Bill Garrison, 29 August 2007

NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT)

[NATO Allied Command Transformation]
image by Zoltan Horvath, 23 February 2010

I visited last week the NATO school in Oberammergau/Germany. Beside the flags of NATO member states and NATO flag was this flag of Allied Command Transformation in use. The proportion is 1:2.
J. Patrick Fischer, 12 July 2008

Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is leading at the strategic command level the transformation of NATO's military structure, forces, capabilities and doctrine. It is enhancing training, particularly of commanders and staffs, conducting experiments to assess new concepts, and promoting interoperability throughout the NATO. ACT was initially formed as Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT) at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1952.
HQ SACT is the only NATO command in North America and the only permanent NATO headquarters outside of Europe. Its commander, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT) is currently a French Admiral. This is the first time when a non-American admiral has been appointed to this position. Even he is the first European to be appointed permanently as head of a NATO strategic command.
Its flag is blue with its circle emblem in the center.
Home page:
Zoltan Horvath, 23 February 2010

Supreme Allied Command Atlantic (SACLANT)

An image at the Truman Library shows a black and white photo of the SACLANT flag.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 16 September 2008

SACLANT would be NATO abbreviation for "Supreme Allied Command Atlantic" and its commander "Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic". It was one of the two supreme commands of the NATO until 2003 reorganization (the other was SACEUR = Allied Commander Europe). The SACLANT had an emblem of a shield shape (probably used as shoulder patch as well) and a seal, similar to that what is seen on the photo. The photo shows, therefore, the flag (colour?) of the SACLANT.
More information at
Željko Heimer, 16 September 2008

I am sending you a color picture of the NATO SACLANT flag. The flag is a 4 inch by 6 inch flag, and does seem to have a different color scheme then the one linked in your site.
Clayton Horner 06 March 2010

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