The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established after the signing of the treaty in Washington D.C. on April 4, 1949. Originally it was comprised of 12 member nations from Western Europe (Belgium, Great Britain, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, and Portugal) and North America (Canada and United States). Alliance's creation was part of a broader effort to serve three purposes: deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.
Above: Photograph of U.S. President Harry S. Truman signing the document implementing the North Atlantic Treaty at his desk in the Oval Office, Aug. 24, 1949, Washington, D.C., as a number of dignitaries look on. Standing behind him are (left to right): Sir Derick Boyer Millar, Charge d'Affaires, United Kingdom; Ambassador Henrik de Kauffmann of Denmark; W. D. Matthews, Charge d'Affaires, Canada; Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson; Ambassador Wilhelm Munthe de Morgenstierne of Norway; Ambassador Henri Bonnet of France; Ambassador Pedro Theotonio Pereira of Portugal; Secretary of State Dean Acheson; Jonkheer O. Reuchlin, Charge d'Affaires, the Netherlands; Mario Lucielli, Charge d'Affaires, Italy. Photo from U.S. National Archives by Mr. Abbie Rowe (1905-1967), photographer for National Park Service in Washington, D.C.
On October 24, 1950, a proposal by the French Prime Minister to form an Allied Command Europe within NATO was unanimously agreed by all other member nations, leading to the establishment of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) on April 2, 1951. The twelve initial signatories of the treaty were joined by Greece and Turkey on February 18, 1952. The admission of Greece and Turkey extended eastward the boundaries of NATO's area of responsibility to include all of the Mediterranean and Black Seas and Greece and Turkey landmasses.
Left: The flags of Greece and Turkey were raised with Allied colors at SHAPE headquarters Mar. 1, 1952, in Paris, France, during a ceremony chaired by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and attended by the Greek and Turkish ambassadors.
On June 11, 1952, NATO authorities decided to establish Allied Land Forces Southeastern Europe (LANDSOUTHEAST) in Izmir, Turkey, to be commanded by an American (U.S.) Army general with a Turkish and Greek general officer as his deputies. LANDSOUTHEAST's area of responsibility stretched from the Caucasus to the western shore of Greece and provided security for 35 million people. The headquarters were initially staffed by Turkish, Greek, and U.S. military personnel supplemented by NATO international civilians and latter by military personnel from other member nations. With no organic forces during peacetime, LANDSOUTHEAST was to assume the operational control of land forces assigned to NATO by Turkey and Greece (Turkish First Army, Turkish Second Army, Turkish Third Army and Hellenic First Army) in the event of a crisis or conflict involving NATO and to direct their operations within the NATO Military Chain of Command.
Left: U.S. Army Gen. Willard G. Wyman (center), first commander of NATO's LANDSOUTHEAST headquarters at the Şirinyer garrison in Izmir, Turkey, is flanked by his two new deputy commanders, Greek Army Maj. Gen. Geremanidis (left) and Turkish Army Maj. Gen. Behçet Türkmen (right), who are meeting for the first time. This picture was taken sometime in 1952, following Wyman's assumption of command. (Photo provided by the LANDCOM Museum Archives)
| Upper Left: The members of NATO's 6ATAF headquarters pose for a group photo in front of their new headquarters in Izmir. (Photo provided by the LANDCOM Museum Archives);
|| Upper Right: Building #1 on the Şirinyer garrison as it looks today.
Left: An aerial view of the official ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of LANDSOUTHEAST's new headquarters building on the 1st Kordon in the Alsancak district of Izmir (Photo provided by the LANDCOM Museum Archives)
In 1977, the SACEUR announced that LANDSOUTHEAST’s command structure would be reviewed in accordance with an agreement reached between NATO and the Turkish government.
Under the revised Command Structure, which became effective July 1, 1978, the commander of LANDSOUTHEAST would be a Turkish four-star general, his deputy a U.S. two-star general, and the chief of staff also a Turkish two-star. Turkish Army Gen. Vecihi Akýn was the first Turkish Commander of LANDSOUTHEAST.
Right: Pictured here is the last U.S. Army commander of LANDSOUTHEAST, Gen. Sam Walker (left) standing next to the first Turkish Army commander of the NATO headquarters, Gen. Vecihi Akn, following their change of command ceremony June 30, 1978. (Photo provided by the LANDCOM Museum Archives)
The new strategic environment emerging from the major changes that occurred in the international political scene since 1989 (i.e., fall of the Berlin Wall and German Reunification, dissolution of the Soviet Union, etc.), necessitated a comprehensive review of NATO's strategic concept, leading to the development of new plans to modify the Military Command Structure. These changes would eventually impact LANDSOUTHEAST's future.
At the November 2002 Prague Summit, the NATO Heads of State and Government endorsed in principle a revised operational command structure based on the minimum military requirement. On June 12, 2003, the new NATO Command Structure was finalised and approved by the Defence Planning Committee in Ministerial Session. For the Southernthis called for the activation of a Joint Forces Command (JFC) headquarters in Naples, Italy, along with three subordinate Component Commands: the Air Component Command (ACC) in Izmir, Turkey, the Maritime Component Command (MCC) in Naples and the Land Component Command (LCC) in Madrid, Spain.
At the NATO Lisbon Summit of 2010, Alliance nations agreed that NATO should transition towards a leaner structure in an effort to address the current economic climate. During the Chicago Summit of May 2012, all 28 nations unanimously agreed to reduce the number of major headquarters from 11 to only six and to reduce the number of staff from 13,000 to around 8,800 under a move called NATO Command Structure Review.
Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) was established in Izmir, Turkey, December 1, 2012, at the former NATO Air Command-Izmir, which deactivated the following year on June 1, 2013. The SACEUR, U.S. Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis, presided, unfurling the LANDCOM colors to pass to its first commanding general, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges. LANDCOM's premier Command Senior Enlisted Leader (CSEL), Canadian Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Saulnier, would serve as an important symbol for Hodges' vision to instill an ethos across all NATO armies that sought to empower the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) with greater influence and responsibility for training Soldiers and advising commanders.
As part of the Allied Command Operations (ACO) reformation, two existing land force headquarters -- Forces Command Heidelberg (Germany) and Forces Command Madrid (Spain) -- were to be deactivated in early 2013. In addition, for the first time in NATO history, the NCS had to develop a deployment capability to offer the North Atlantic Council (NAG) with flexible and highly responsive options to prepare for and deter emerging and unanticipated threats to the Alliance's security.
LANDCOM would be the first of the three solitary component commands to be required to reach Full Operating Capability (FOC) by December 2014, which was the deadline for NATO operations in Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) to conclude and transition to Operation Resolute Support.
Since its founding in 1949, the transatlantic Alliance's flexibility, embedded in its original Treaty, has allowed it to suit the different requirements of different times. In the 1950s, the Alliance was a purely defensive organisation. In the 1960s, NATO became a political instrument for détente. In the 1990s, the Alliance was a tool for the stabilisation of Eastern Europe and Central Asia through the incorporation of new Partners and Allies. In the first half of the 21st century, NATO faces an ever-growing number of new threats. As the foundation stone of transatlantic peace and freedom, NATO must be ready to meet this challenge.
To contribute to that purpose, today, with its adapted structure and increased number of posts, LANDCOM is the Theatre Land Component and Land Advocate responsible for coordinating and synchronizing NATO and Partner Land Forces by ensuring land domain READINESS, INTEROPERABILITY, STANDARDIZATION, and COMPETENCY. On order, it deploys headquarters elements to provide planning, coordination, and C2 capabilities to Allied forces.