NATO's new Atlantic Command was declared operational in a physically-distanced ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia, US, on 17 September 2020, and the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency played a key role in achieving this milestone.
The Agency's Communications and Information Systems Support Unit (CSU) in Norfolk provided all of the technology necessary to bring the new NATO Joint Force Command (JFC) online and connect it to NATO, and the rest of the Alliance.
US Air Force LTC David L. Hancock, CSU Norfolk Commander said: "What the team has been able to accomplish, between the technicians and action officers on the ground here in Norfolk, and the staff in Europe giving us the support and flexibility we needed, is truly impressive and a testament to what the NCI Agency can do when we act with unity of purpose. Of course, in many ways we are just getting started, and we look forward to getting JFC Norfolk ready to demonstrate the capabilities this Alliance expects."
NATO Defence Ministers decided in June 2018 to adapt the Alliance's command structure with a new Atlantic command in Norfolk, and a command for support and logistics in Ulm, Germany. Joint Force Command Norfolk joins NATO's two existing Joint Forces Commands, located in Brunssum, Netherlands, and Naples, Italy.
CSU Norfolk was involved since before any JFC Norfolk staff arrived on-site, providing essential capabilities to the Tiger Team of US Navy personnel charged with facilitating the establishment of the command.
The Tiger Team urgently needed Communications and Information Systems (CIS) equipment to be able to consult with the rest of the Alliance. Creative collaboration overcame tight timelines. The CSU put in place the necessary processes to obtain the CIS services required for each batch of arriving JFC Norfolk staff, ultimately enabling the Command to be declared operational.
NCI Agency Acting Director Service Operations Tim Murphy said: "The Command's work continues, building capabilities required for the Command's unique mission areas, and preparing to demonstrate these in exercise Steadfast Defender in 2021. Throughout these efforts, the NCI Agency will be there, building the workforce and expertise needed to provide services to the operational command defending the Alliance in the Atlantic."