Presence in US Essential to NATO

“It is important to understand that NATO is a trans-Atlantic organization, so it is very important to keep a NATO flag in the US,” said Maj. Gen. Jaap Willemse, a senior officer on the staff of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation. Speaking Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference, Willemse said, “When we talk about NATO transformation, it has been key for ACT (Allied Command Transformation) to be in the US, because no matter how you turn it, a lot is dependent on the government in the United States.” NATO ACT is currently the only NATO body on US soil and currently is collocated with US Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va. (The Pentagon has decided to eliminate JFCOM, but the NATO plans to leave ACT in Virginia.) Willemse said that JFCOM has been very important to NATO, making its disbandment keenly felt, but added that many ACT elements already operate independently, making the transition largely a “matter of realignment.”