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NATO Strategic Commands

Last modified: 2024-06-08 by zachary harden
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[Flag of NATO] image by Željko Heimer, 11 February 2010

on this page: 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. The flag of ACO is green with its crest in the center.
More information at: NATO ACO Topics Page
Zoltan Horvath, 23 February 2010

NATO Allied Command Operations (ACO) Standard
Possible Historical Variant

[NATO Allied Command Operations] image located by Pete Loeser, 4 June 2024
based on this Wikipedia source.

This variant of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe flag shown on Wikipedia states the ACO Flag height was 4 foot 6 inches and the width was 9 feet. The measurements of the coat of arms was 37 inches high and 26 inches wide. It claims the source was The North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The drawing was dated 22 January 2018 and credited to NATO but no original reference could be located by me.
Pete Loeser, 4 June 2024

NATO Allied Command Europe (SHAPE)

[NATO Allied Command Operations] image by Pete Loeser, 4 June 2024
based on this photo located by William Garrison, 29 August 2007

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 is poor shown in the background of this official military photograph of General Joseph Ralston, USAF, who replaced General Wesley Clark, USA, as Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander in Chief, US European Command.
Joe McMillan, 23 May 2000

A green silk flag [drawn above by Pete Loeser in 2024] 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.
William Garrison, 29 August 2007

[NATO Allied Command Operations] image located by Pete Loeser, 5 June 2024

Another Variant of the Flag of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe drawn by sufianasif786 appearing on FreeP!k shows a simplified, but very clean drawing of the SHAPE Command Flag without embroidered ceremonial border or stars.
Pete Loeser, 5 June 2024

[For more current information about the NATO Allied Command Europe visit the SHAPE website.]

NATO Allied Command Transformation (ACT)

[NATO Allied Command Transformation] image by Zoltan Horvath, 23 February 2010
based on this photo located by J. Patrick Fischer, 12 July 2008

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. 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 and he is the first European to be appointed permanently as head of a NATO strategic command.
The flag is blue with its circle emblem in the center.
Home page:
Željko Heimer, 23 February 2010

Supreme Allied Command Atlantic (SACLANT)

[NATO Allied Command Operations] image by Pete Loeser, 4 June 2024
based on this photo located by Željko Heimer, 16 September 2008

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 the flag of the SACLANT.
More information here.
Željko Heimer, 16 September 2008

SACLANT Table Flag
Table Decoration for meetings or conferences

[NATO Allied Command Operations table Flag] image by Pete Loeser, 4 June 2024
based on this photo located by Clayton Horner 06 March 2010

I am sending you a color picture of the NATO SACLANT flag. The flag is a 4x6" flag, and does seem to have a different color scheme than the one linked in your site.
Clayton Horner 06 March 2010

My guess is that this was a 4x6 inch table flag given out at Supreme Allied Command Atlantic meetings or conferences. I didn't spend a great deal of time working on it, basically re-coloring same emblem I used for my other SACLANT drawing.
Pete Loeser, 4 June 2024

Supreme Allied Command Atlantic (SACLANT)
Cold War Era Manufacturer Variants

[nato allied command operations]     [NATO Allied Command Operations] images by Pete Loeser, 4 June 2024

The last remnants of the SACLANT NATO/US Combined Command officially ended when the US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) cased its colors during a ceremony held in its Norfolk, Virginia headquarters. It had started during the Cold War following World War II. The ceremony marked the end of the 50+ year old joint command in 2011 (It's interesting to note, because of continuing world tensions there was discussion about reinstating some sort of unified command which resulted in the formation of the new Joint Force Command - Norfolk in 2020).
Over the years there have been several commercial unofficial variants of SACLANT flags being marketed for those wishing to remember or honor the historic Supreme Allied Command Atlantic. These are two such flags.
Source: Global Security Organization.
Pete Loeser, 4 June 2024