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NATO member nations have been united in their goal of protecting their nations, people and values since the Alliance’s creation in 1949. Ensuring Alliance military forces are ready and aligned with the ever changing security environment has required that NATO continually adapts its command structure. The formation of Allied Command Operations, or Allied Command Europe as it was called in 1951, was one of the first examples of adaptation. NATO saw a need for a strategic headquarters in order to provide better command and control of military assets and personnel.

NATO Nations meet during the 1957 Summit - Photo by NATO HQ

Over the years, NATO’s command structure has undergone multiple changes in order to face the challenges and threats of the time. One of the most notable adaptations was a response to a post-Cold War reality. When the Soviet Union fell, NATO had 22,000 personnel assigned to 33 subordinate commands. Since then, the Alliance’s command structure has shifted to approximately 7,000 personnel in seven commands.

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