Did you know ... ?

that SACEUR had a Russian general as his Deputy at SHAPE in the 1990s?

15 Jan 2010

When NATO agreed to lead a peacekeeping operation in Bosnia to separate the warring factions after the fighting ended as a result of the General Framework Agreement for Peace that was initialled at Dayton, Ohio on 21 November 1995 and ratified in Paris on 14 December 1995, a number of non-NATO nations volunteered to contribute forces to the new Implementation Force (IFOR), including Russia. But working out NATO command and control arrangements for the Russian contingent proved very difficult, and high-level negotiations by NATO and US diplomats with the Russians failed to come up with a solution acceptable to all parties. The problem was then handed to SACEUR George A. Joulwan, who in a series of personal negotiations with Russian Colonel General Shevtsov worked out the command and control arrangements for the Russian forces under which a Russian general would be named as SACEUR's Deputy for Russian Forces. General Shevtsov was named to become the first Russian deputy to SACEUR, and a Russian delegation joined the IFOR Co-ordination Centre established at SHAPE. Interestingly, this centre was located inside the LIVE OAK Building, which until 1991 had hosted the Allied planning staff responsible for preserving access to Berlin in the event of a Soviet blockade.

why SHAPE and SACEUR did not change their titles when Allied Command Europe became Allied Command Operations in 2004?

15 Jan 2010
The change from Allied Command Europe to Allied Command Operations actually represented an expansion of the mission and geographic area of responsibility for SHAPE rather than a complete change in the way it did business. In addition, the titles of SHAPE and SACEUR had great historical significance due to their continued existence since the beginnings of the NATO integrated military command structure. Thus while some consideration was initially given to changing the name of SACEUR to something like SACOPS or even SACO, in which case SHAPE would have been changed to perhaps SHACO or SHACOPS, none of these acronyms were considered very dignified (somehow many terms ending in "o” have negative connotations, for example "psycho” or "sicko” or "wacko”, and "SHACOPS” sounded like "shack ups”), and the two terms had never been formed simply on the basis of the command's name (thus Allied Command Europe's commander and headquarters had never been called SACE and SHACE ). In addition there were important legal and fiscal considerations attached to retaining the name SHAPE, due to the many agreements and contracts signed by SHAPE over the years, so the decision was taken to retain the historic titles of SACEUR and SHAPE under the new command structure. In the case of Allied Command Atlantic and its commander SACLANT, however, the new mission for this command was so completely different - overseeing the transformation of NATO's forces and procedures in the 21st century rather than guarding the sea lines of communication to Europe – that both names had to be changed, with the command becoming Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and its commander the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT).

why there is a piece of the Berlin Wall at SHAPE?

15 Jan 2010

When the Soviet Union began threatening to interfere with the access of the three Western Allies (France, United Kingdom and United States) to West Berlin in late 1958 and early 1959, these three nations established a small planning staff in April 1959 under the code name LIVE OAK to draw up plans for possible reactions to Soviet interference on the access routes to Berlin. LIVE OAK was commanded by General Lauris Norstad in a third hat known as "Commander LIVE OAK” in his addition to his NATO (SACEUR) and U.S. (Commander-in-Chief U.S. European Command or CINCEUR) hats. Initially located on the compound of the U.S. European Command on the outskirts of Paris, LIVE OAK soon moved to the SHAPE compound to provide better communications facilities for the two non-U.S. members of LIVE OAK (expanded to three through the addition of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1961). LIVE OAK remained co-located with SHAPE for the rest of its existence; thus when SHAPE moved to Belgium in 1967, LIVE OAK did so too. LIVE OAK continued to prepare for a possible Berlin crisis for the next two decades, and then ceased operations after German unification on 3 October 1990. In early 1991 the staff was disbanded, but prior to that a section of the Berlin Wall was placed in front of the LIVE OAK Building in recognition of the organisation's four decades of efforts to preserve the freedom of access to Berlin.

how many SACEURs have not been U.S. Army generals?

15 Jan 2010

Four of the sixteen SACEURs have been from services other than the U.S. Army: General Lauris Norstad, U.S. Air Force, from 27 November 1956 to 1 January 1963; General Joseph W. Ralston, U.S. Air Force, from 3 May 2000 to 17 January 2003; General James L. Jones, U.S. Marine Corps, from 17 January 2003 to 7 December 2006, and Admiral James G. Stavridis, U.S. Navy, from 2 July 2009 to the present.

how many SACEURs continued their military careers in other posts after leaving SHAPE?

15 Jan 2010

The post of SACEUR has always been seen as a very prestigious one held by a highly experienced officer nearing the end of his military career. Thus most SACEURs have retired from the military upon completion of their service as SACEUR. There are, however, three exceptions. The second SACEUR, General Matthew B. Ridgway, lacked the political skills of his predecessor and therefore did not always get along well with the European Allies, so in July 1953 President Eisenhower made him Chief of Staff of the United States Army. General Andrew J. Goodpaster retired from the Army at the end of his service as SACEUR in December 1974, but when a cheating scandal shook the United States Military Academy at West Point, General Goodpaster voluntarily returned to active duty in 1977 and took a demotion in rank to Lieutenant General (thus from four stars to three) in order to serve as the Superintendent of his beloved West Point and help it carry out needed reforms. In October 1993 General John M. "Shali” Shalikashvili, who had been serving as SACEUR for only one year and four months, became the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thus in NATO terms the United States' "Chief of Defence”, which is the one post that is clearly superior even to that of SACEUR.

that the Kosovo Air Campaign of 1999 was not NATO's first air campaign of attacks against ground targets?

15 Jan 2010

When the situation in Bosnia continued to deteriorate due to Bosnian Serb attacks on areas that the United Nations had declared to be "Safe Areas”, NATO expanded its Operation DENY FLIGHT over the skies of Bosnia from just enforcement of the No-Fly Zone to Close Air Support attacks at the request of UN peacekeeping forces and also air strikes in support of UN resolutions. Such limited attacks began in 1994 and continued into 1995. After the Bosnian Serbs overran the Srebrenica Safe Area, killing a large number of the male inhabitants afterward, and then began to threaten two additional UN-declared Safe Areas, NATO carried out Operation DELIBERATE FORCE. From late August until mid-September 1995, NATO aircraft attacked Bosnian Serb military targets to force them to withdraw their heavy weapons from the Sarajevo area. NATO's forceful action contributed to the Bosnian Serbs' decision to enter into peace negotiations, and in November 1995 the warring factions signed the Dayton Peace Accords.

that the first combat action by NATO forces took place in 1994, 45 years after the creation of the Alliance?

15 Jan 2010

After the United Nations declared a No-Fly Zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina to prevent air attacks from being carried out by the warring factions, NATO began Operation Sky Monitor in October 1992 to monitor this No-Fly Zone. Then in April 1993 NATO agreed to conduct air operations to enforce the No-Fly Zone, and Operation DENY FLIGHT began. On 28 February 1994 NATO aircraft shot down four Bosnian Serb fighter-bombers conducting a bombing mission in clear violation of the UN No-Fly Zone. This was the first combat action in NATO's history.

that NATO played a very active supporting role during the first Gulf Crisis and War in 1990-1991?

15 Jan 2010

Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, SHAPE implemented precautionary measures to ensure the security of NATO's Mediterranean members and prevent the spread of tension and conflict. Such measures included increased coverage of the area by NATO Airborne Early Warning aircraft, deployment of NATO naval forces to deal with any threats to shipping in the Mediterranean, provision of significant logistics and air defence support to Turkey, and the deployment of the Ace Mobile Force (Air) to Turkey in January 1991. Thus while NATO was not a direct participant in the Gulf War, Allied Command Europe played a major role in supporting those NATO member states threatened by the conflict.

that during the first four decades of NATO's existence the Alliance carried out no military operations?

15 Jan 2010

During the Cold War NATO's priorities lay with ensuring an effective defence of the Alliance's territory so as to deter any potential attacker. Thus NATO concentrated on drawing up effective defensive plans, building up the necessary military forces, raising the standards of their proficiency and ensuring effective multinational cooperation through a wide range of military exercises. NATO was thus very active from 1949 to 1989, but the focus was on plans, procurement, training and multinational exercises within the NATO area. It was not until the end of the Cold War that NATO began conducting actual military operations, beginning with defensive measures taken to protect Turkey against an attack by Iraq during the first Gulf Crisis and War in 1990-1991.

how long it took to build the new SHAPE Headquarters in Casteau, Belgium, in 1966-1967?

15 Jan 2010

In September 1966 NATO agreed that Belgium should host SHAPE at the former Belgian army camp in Casteau. Only six and one-half months remained before the French deadline for SHAPE to leave France would expire. A massive seven-day-a-week building programme began, co-ordinated between the Belgian central and local authorities, the consortium of construction companies who were to actually build the headquarters, and SHAPE. Highest priority was given to building the command and control facilities. SHAPE closed its facility at Rocquencourt near Paris on 30 March 1967, and the next day held a ceremony to mark the opening of the new headquarters at Casteau. SACEUR Lemnitzer called the construction effort "a miracle of achievement” and praised the Belgian authorities and workmen for their efforts to ensure that SHAPE had a new headquarters in a remarkably short time.

why SHAPE moved from France to Belgium in 1967?

15 Jan 2010

In the spring of 1966, when French President Charles de Gaulle decided to take France out of NATO's integrated military command structure, he declared that all non-French military headquarters and installations must depart French territory by 1 April 1967. This meant that NATO military headquarters such as SHAPE and AFCENT (Allied Forces Central Europe, located in Fontainebleau) plus major U.S. headquarters like the U.S. European Command located just outside of Paris, had to leave French territory within a year. NATO began looking for a suitable site for SHAPE and believed that for psychological reasons it was important that the headquarters remain on the continent of Europe rather than move across the English Channel to the United Kingdom. Germany was not considered a good location for SHAPE because it was too far forward in terms of the potential threat at that time, so the Benelux countries were approached about the possibility of hosting the NATO military headquarters that needed to leave France. The Netherlands offered to become the host nation for AFCENT and Belgium offered to host SHAPE. The Belgian government then identified a site just north of the city of Mons in western Belgium that was already owned by the government and thus could be quickly turned into the site for SHAPE. The site offered to NATO by Belgium was Camp Casteau, a 200-hectare summer training site for the Belgian Army. Belgium also offered to host NATO's political headquarters, because the NATO Allies had decided to move this headquarters from France at the same time as the military headquarters, even though France had not demanded the removal of NATO's political headquarters.

Is there some aspect of SHAPE, ACO or NATO history that particularly interests you? You may find it below in some of the questions that have most frequently been posed to the SHAPE Historians over the years.As we have mentioned elsewhere, we have tried to make this information as accurate as possible, but the answers provided are the views solely of the SHAPE Historians and do not necessarily represent official positions of SHAPE or NATO.
Did you know... :

     Sitemap ContactThe first 40 years with NATO

 Facebook  Twitter  Rss  Youtube  Flickr