Supreme Allied Commander is the title held by the most senior commander within certain multinational military alliances. It originated as a term used by the Allies of World War I during World War I, and is currently used only within NATO. The current NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe is U.S. General Tod D. Wolters.
The Allies of World War I or Entente Powers is the term commonly used for the coalition that opposed the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria during the First World War (1914–1918).
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO's Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.
On 26 March 1918, the French marshal Ferdinand Foch was appointed Supreme Allied Commander, gaining command of all Allied forces everywhere, and coordinated the French, British, American, and Italian forces to stop the Spring Offensive, the last massive offensive of the German Empire.He was the one who accepted the German cessation of hostilities in his private train.
Marshal Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch was a French general and military theorist who served as the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War. An aggressive, even reckless commander at the First Marne, Flanders, and Artois campaigns of 1914–1916, Foch became the Allied Commander-in-Chief in late March 1918 in the face of the all-out German spring offensive, which pushed the Allies back using fresh soldiers and new tactics that trenches could not contain. He successfully coordinated the French, British and American efforts into a coherent whole, deftly handling his strategic reserves. He stopped the German offensive and launched a war-winning counterattack. In November 1918, Marshal Foch accepted the German cessation of hostilities and was present at the armistice of 11 November.
The 1918 Spring Offensive, or Kaiserschlacht, also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914. The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the overwhelming human and matériel resources of the United States could be fully deployed. They also had the temporary advantage in numbers afforded by the nearly 50 divisions which had been freed by the Russian withdrawal from the war by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice signed at Le Francport near Compiègne that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany. Previous armistices had been agreed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also known as the Armistice of Compiègne from the place where it was signed at 5:45 a.m. by the French Marshal Foch, it came into force at 11:00 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender.
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During World War II, the Allied leaders appointed Supreme Allied Commanders to manage the multi-nation, multi-discipline fighting forces for a particular theatre of war. These Supreme Allied Commanders were given operational control over all air, land, and sea units in that theatre. In other cases, senior commanders were given the title Commander-in-Chief.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Allies of World War II, called the "United Nations" from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
In warfare, a theater or theatre is an area in which important military events occur or are progressing. A theater can include the entirety of the airspace, land and sea area that is or that may potentially become involved in war operations.
These Supreme Allied Commanders were drawn from the most senior leaders in the British Armed Forces and United States Armed Forces. These commanders reported to the British/American Combined Chiefs of Staff, although in the case of the Pacific and South East Asia, the relevant national command authorities of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff or the British Chiefs of Staff Committee had responsibility for the main conduct of the war in the theatre, depending on the Supreme Commander's nationality.
A five-star rank is a very senior military rank, first established in the United States in 1944, with a five-star general insignia, and corresponding ranks in other countries. The rank is that of the most senior operational military commanders, and within NATO's "standard rank scale" it is designated by the code OF-10.
The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They also promote Britain's wider interests, support international peacekeeping efforts and provide humanitarian aid.
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States of America. It consists of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The president of the United States is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and forms military policy with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), both federal executive departments, acting as the principal organs by which military policy is carried out. All five armed services are among the seven uniformed services of the United States.
General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower served in successive Supreme Allied Commander roles. Eisenhower was the Commander-in-Chief, Allied Force for the Mediterranean theatre. Eisenhower then served as Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (SCAEF) in the European theatre, starting in December 1943 with the creation of the command to execute Operation Overlord and ending in July 1945 shortly after the End of World War II in Europe. In 1951, Eisenhower would again be a Supreme Allied Commander, the first to hold the post for NATO (see next section).
General of the Army is a five-star general officer and the second highest possible rank in the United States Army. A General of the Army ranks immediately above a general and is equivalent to a Fleet Admiral and a General of the Air Force. There is no established equivalent five-star rank in the other federal uniformed services. Often called a "five-star general", the rank of General of the Army has historically been reserved for wartime use and is not currently active in the U.S. military. The General of the Army insignia consisted of five 3/8th inch stars in a pentagonal pattern, with points touching. The insignia was paired with the gold and enameled United States Coat of Arms on service coat shoulder loops. The silver colored five-star metal insignia alone would be worn for use as a collar insignia of grade and on the garrison cap. Soft shoulder epaulettes with five 7/16th inch stars in silver thread and gold-threaded United States Coat of Arms on green cloth were worn with shirts and sweaters.
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from 1953 to 1961. During World War II, he was a five-star general in the United States Army and served as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. He was responsible for planning and supervising the invasion of North Africa in Operation Torch in 1942–43 and the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45 from the Western Front.
Allied Force Headquarters (AFHQ) was the headquarters that controlled all Allied operational forces in the Mediterranean Theatre of World War II from late 1942 until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.
Field Marshal Henry Maitland Wilson succeeded Eisenhower in the Mediterranean theatre, given the title Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean. Wilson was succeeded by Field Marshal Harold Alexander, who continued in charge of those Allied forces until the end of the war.
Field Marshal has been the highest rank in the British Army since 1736. A five-star rank with NATO code OF-10, it is equivalent to an Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy or a Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the Royal Air Force (RAF). A Field Marshal's insignia consists of two crossed batons surrounded by yellow leaves below St Edward's Crown. Like Marshals of the RAF and Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals traditionally remain officers for life, though on half-pay when not in an appointment. The rank has been used sporadically throughout its history and was vacant during parts of the 18th and 19th centuries. After the Second World War, it became standard practice to appoint the Chief of the Imperial General Staff to the rank on his last day in the post. Army officers occupying the post of Chief of the Defence Staff, the professional head of all the British Armed Forces, were usually promoted to the rank upon their appointment.
Field Marshal Henry Maitland Wilson, 1st Baron Wilson,, also known as Jumbo Wilson, was a senior British Army officer of the 20th century. He saw active service in the Second Boer War and then during the First World War on the Somme and at Passchendaele. During the Second World War he served as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) British Troops in Egypt, in which role he launched Operation Compass, attacking Italian forces with considerable success, in December 1940. He went on to be Military Governor of Cyrenaica in February 1941, commanding a Commonwealth expeditionary force to Greece in April 1941 and General Officer Commanding (GOC) British Forces in Palestine and Trans-Jordan in May 1941.
Field Marshal Harold Rupert Leofric George Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis,, was a senior British Army officer who served with distinction in both the First World War and the Second World War and, afterwards, as Governor General of Canada, the 17th since Canadian Confederation.
Admiral of the Fleet Lord Louis Mountbatten was Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia (SACSEA) throughout most of its existence. He replaced General Archibald Wavell.
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was named the Supreme Commander of Allied forces in the China war zone (CBI) on 1942. However, US forces in practice were usually overseen by General Joseph Stilwell, the Deputy Allied Commander in China and South East Asia Command (SEAC). Until late 1944 that the land forces chain of command was clarified, after Stilwell was recalled to Washington. His overall role, and the CBI command were then split among three people: Lt Gen. Raymond Wheeler became Deputy Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia; Maj. Gen. Albert Wedemeyer became Chief of Staff to Chiang, and commander of US Forces, China Theater (USFCT). Lt Gen. Daniel Sultan was promoted, from deputy commander of CBI to commander of US Forces, India-Burma Theater (USFIBT) and commander of the NCAC.
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was appointed Supreme Allied Commander, South West Pacific Area (SWPA) on 18 June 1942. 652–653 were commanded by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Areas.However, he preferred to use the title Commander-in-Chief. During the Allied occupation of Japan following the war, MacArthur held the title of Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP).The Pacific Ocean Areas (POA), divided into the Central Pacific Area, the North Pacific Area and the South Pacific Area, :
The term came into use again with the formation of NATO in 1949. In 1952, Allied Command Europe was established, led by Eisenhower. He became the Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR). Soon afterwards, Allied Command Atlantic was established, at Norfolk, Virginia, under Lynde McCormick, a U.S. Navy admiral. His title was Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT), and the entire command was usually known as SACLANT. Both Supreme Commander have, until 2009, been American, with a deputy commander from another NATO member, though only British and Germans have held the post.
In June 2003, the commands were reshuffled. One command was given responsibility for operations, and one for transforming the military components of the alliance to meet new challenges. In Europe, Allied Command Operations was established from the former Allied Command Europe, and given responsibility for all NATO military operations worldwide. However, for legal reasons[ further explanation needed ], SACEUR retained the traditional title including Europe. In the United States, SACLANT was decommissioned and Allied Command Transformation established. The headquarters of ACT is at the former SACLANT headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Each has a Supreme Allied Commander as its commander.
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Allied Command Operations (ACO). Since 1967 it has been located at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons, but it had previously been located, from 1953, at Rocquencourt, next to Versailles, France. From 1951 to 2003, SHAPE was the headquarters of Allied Command Europe (ACE). Since 2003 it has been the headquarters of Allied Command Operations, controlling all NATO operations worldwide.
Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force was the headquarters of the Commander of Allied forces in north west Europe, from late 1943 until the end of World War II. U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was the commander in SHAEF throughout its existence. The position itself shares a common lineage with Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Atlantic, but they are different titles.
South East Asia Command (SEAC) was the body set up to be in overall charge of Allied operations in the South-East Asian Theatre during World War II.
Lauris Norstad was an American General in the United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force.
China Burma India Theater (CBI) was the United States military designation during World War II for the China and Southeast Asian or India-Burma (IBT) theaters. Operational command of Allied forces in the CBI was officially the responsibility of the Supreme Commanders for South East Asia or China. However, US forces in practice were usually overseen by General Joseph Stilwell, the Deputy Allied Commander in China; the term "CBI" was significant in logistical, material and personnel matters; it was and is commonly used within the US for these theaters.
The Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCBS) is a NATO command at Brunssum, the Netherlands.
The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) is the commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Allied Command Operations (ACO) and head of ACO's headquarters, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE). The commander is based at SHAPE in Casteau, Belgium. SACEUR is the second-highest military position within NATO, below only the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in terms of precedence.
Allied Command Operations (ACO) is one of the two strategic commands of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the other being Allied Command Transformation (ACT). The headquarters and commander of ACO is Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), respectively.
Alfred Maximilian Gruenther was a senior United States Army officer, Red Cross president, and bridge player. At age fifty-three, he became the youngest four-star general in the U.S. Army's history. He succeeded General Matthew Ridgway as the Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) in Europe serving from 1953 to 1956.
Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is a military command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), formed in 2003 after restructuring.
Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples is a NATO military command based in Lago Patria, in the Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy—the base was formerly located in the Bagnoli quarter of Naples. It was activated on 15 March 2004, after what was effectively a redesignation of its predecessor command, Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH), originally formed in 1951. AFSOUTH in NATO Military Command Structure terms was a "Major Subordinate Command". Commander JFC Naples reports to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Casteau, Belgium.
Joint Force Command Lisbon was one of the largest NATO bases in south Europe Allied Command Operations. It was based in Oeiras, near Lisbon, Portugal. In 2009 a French lieutenant general took command from the previous US Navy admiral who had filled the post for a number of years. It was deactivated in 2012.
The Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) was one of two supreme commanders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the other being the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). The SACLANT led Allied Command Atlantic, based at Norfolk, Virginia. The entire command was routinely referred to as 'SACLANT'.
Exercise Mainbrace was the first large-scale naval exercise undertaken by the newly established Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT), one of the two principal military commands of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It was part of a series of NATO exercises jointly commanded by Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic Admiral Lynde D. McCormick, USN, and Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Matthew B. Ridgeway, U.S. Army, during the Fall of 1952.
Admiral Lynde Dupuy McCormick was a four-star admiral in the United States Navy who served as vice chief of naval operations from 1950 to 1951 and as commander in chief of the United States Atlantic Fleet from 1951 to 1954, and was the first supreme allied commander of all NATO forces in the Atlantic.
The Structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is complex and multi-faceted. The decision-making body is the North Atlantic Council (NAC), and the member state representatives also sit on the Defence Planning Committee (DPC) and the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG). Below that the Secretary General of NATO directs the civilian International Staff, that is divided into administrative divisions, offices and other organizations. Also responsible to the NAC, DPC, and NPG are a host of committees that supervise the various NATO logistics and standardisation agencies.
Philip Mark Breedlove is a four-star General in the United States Air Force who served as the Commander, U.S. European Command, as well as the 17th Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Allied Command Operations, from May 2013 until May 4, 2020. He previously served as the Commander, U.S. Air Forces Europe, which he concurrently served as Commander, U.S. Air Forces Africa, Commander, Air Component Command, Ramstein, and Director, Joint Air Power Competence Center. He previously served as the 36th Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force from January 14, 2011, to July 27, 2012. On 10 May 2013, in a ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, Breedlove took over the command of USEUCOM. Three days later, on May 13, 2013, he assumed command as SACEUR.
Exercise Longstep was a ten-day NATO naval exercise held in the Mediterranean Sea during November 1952 under the overall command of Admiral Robert B. Carney, USN, the Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCAFSOUTH). This exercise involved over 170 warships and 700 aircraft, and it featured a large-scale amphibious assault along the western coast of Turkey. With Exercise Grand Slam, this exercise served as the prototype for future NATO maritime exercises in the Mediterranean Sea during the Cold War.
Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) is the central command of all NATO maritime forces and the Commander MARCOM is the prime maritime advisor to the Alliance. When directed by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), it provides the core of the headquarters responsible for the conduct of maritime operations. The command is based at the Northwood Headquarters in northwest London.