NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- This weekend, the city of Norfolk celebrates its special relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which dates back to 1952.

It's the only NATO organization headquartered on US soil, located on the grounds of Naval Support Activity, off Terminal Boulevard in Norfolk.

Twenty-nine partner nations, working together as one.

Allied Command Transformation's mission is to contribute to preserving the peace, security and territorial integrity of alliance member states, by leading the transformation of military structures, forces, capabilities, and doctrines.

"We do not have a crystal ball, so we look at what could lead to trends that could lead to a crisis in 20, 30 years to come, and based on that, what do we have to do now?" said ACT's commander, General Denis Mercier of the French Air Force.

From its inception in 2003, Allied Command Transformation demonstrated the importance placed by NATO Nations on the role of change. In short, you can't fight tomorrow's wars with yesterday's strategies.

"And what we do at Allied Command Transformation is we look at the future, we prepare for the future in order that we have a high capacity not only today but tomorrow as well," said Mercier.

ATC's predecessor Allied Command Atlantic was established in Norfolk 1952. That's 66 years of presence, and, partnership here.

There is more than one thousand military and civilian personnel working at ATC, contributing $100 million to the local economy every year.

"This relationship is absolutely remarkable, and I can really measure it every day," said Mercier.

The NATO Festival, which used to be known as the Azalea Festival, kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m. with the 65 the Parade of Nations, with all 29 NATO countries participating. After the parade-- from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.-- people can check out the International Village at Town Point Park. It's all free and open to the public.

Follow 13News Now on Facebook and Twitter

► Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13News Now App.