Welcome to the History Corner

where you can find out more about the history of Allied Command Operations (ACO) and its senior headquarters SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), plus ACO's two predecessors: Allied Command Europe and Allied Command Atlantic. This portion of the ACO website has been prepared by the SHAPE Historical Office, which was created in February 1951 by the first Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who wanted a detailed historical record kept of SHAPE's activities because "If SHAPE succeeds, it will be a model for future cooperation, and even if fails, we should know the reasons why.”

History Corner

"Knowing the reasons why” remains the guiding principle for the SHAPE Historical Office to this day. Our primary task is to preserve a detailed historical record of the plans, decisions and operations carried out by Allied Command Operations and its headquarters SHAPE on behalf of NATO. This historical record is for the use of current and future staff members as well as future generations. We also provide historical advice to the senior leadership and staff of SHAPE and to higher and lower headquarters. In preparing historical papers related to current issues, we attempt to apply the lessons of history wherever possible, thus using history to assist current decision-making.
Most of our work on current NATO plans and operations is of necessity classified and thus not available to the public at present. But we have prepared a number of responses to questions and other unclassified historical studies over the years that we can release, so the History Corner will contain this information in three areas:  (1) a detailed "History of Allied Command Operations" from the beginning of NATO to the present, (2) a "Did You Know” section containing short answers to some of the most frequently posed questions about SHAPE and ACO, and (3) the "Historical Documents" section with longer historical papers, historical documents, and speeches by former SACEURs.  We have attempted to make all of the historical information as accurate as possible, but it is important to note that the information we have provided represents only the views of the authors and is not necessarily the official position of SHAPE or NATO.   For more information about doing research on NATO and SHAPE history see the "Research at SHAPE" section.

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