NORFOLK, Va. — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Wednesday marked a major anniversary of a crucial strategic military command.
Although NATO's history in the City of Norfolk actually dates back to 1952---when the alliance's military component here was known as Supreme Allied Command Atlantic--- this year marks the momentous occasion of the 20th anniversary of what is now called Allied Command Transformation.
The name changed in 2003, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"And what we looked at is, what kind of command do we need to make sure NATO is more efficient, NATO is always present, NATO can do the job citizens expect of it?" said Jay Paxton, NATO/ACT Information Chief.
Based at NATO's only North American headquarters--at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads, adjacent to Naval Station Norfolk--ACT is dedicated to developing warfighting strategies for the world of today while preparing for tomorrow.
The 31 member nations are devoted to keeping their combined one billion citizens on both sides of the Atlantic safe.
Given the global dangers posed in the 21st Century, NATO leaders insist their alliance and this command are more needed than ever.
"The world is at unrest. There is more conflict than there was like 10 years ago. So, you can see how important it is to react and to defend the alliance overall," said General Chris Badia, NATO/ACT Deputy Commander.
He continued: "Our headquarters' task is really to think about the future, warfare development for the future and, especially, what comes with it: what are the capabilities needed in the future?"
During Wednesday's ceremony, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds rendered a four-plane aerial salute.
And the celebrations will continue next year when NATO reaches its 75th anniversary.
In April, Finland became NATO's 31st member. Sweden hopes to become the 32nd in July, pending approval by the Turkish Parliament.