Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2008

An interview with General James L. Jones, USMC, Retired, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), 2003-2006

David S. Yost

January 2008

NATO Defense College


What were the Alliance’s greatest achievements during the four years (47 months) you served as SACEUR?

The greatest achievements include the Alliance’s enlargement from 19 to 26 allies and the progress made in fulfilling the vision of the [November 2002] Prague Summit for the transformation of NATO’s military posture. The vision includes the creation of the NATO Response Force and the establishment of Allied Command Transformation. Thanks to Prague, since 2003 the Alliance has had two strategic commands; one for operations —Allied Command Operations located in Mons, Belgium — and one for transformation, Allied Command Transformation, in Norfolk, Virginia. The Alliance has also established three operational level commands. This new command structure involved a major headquarters realignment and significant manpower downsizing, plus the disestablishment of numerous headquarters.

The Prague Summit was certainly one of the most visionary summits in the Alliance’s history. It provided a new strategic direction for the Alliance in the 21st century, thus enabling crossing the line of departure for NATO’s twenty-first century transformation. It went a long way toward redefining the operational command structure of the Alliance....