Allied Joint Force Command Naples

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Joint Force Command Naples
Active AFSOUTH 1951 - 2004
15 March 2004 – present
Allegiance NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Part of Allied Command Operations, Casteau, Belgium
Headquarters Naples, Italy
Engagements Bosnian War
Kosovo War
Military intervention in Libya
Commander Admiral Mark E. Ferguson III, United States Navy
Deputy Commander Lieutenant-General D. Michael Day, Canadian Army
Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Leonardo di Marco, Italian Army

Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples (JFC Naples) is a NATO military command based in Bagnoli, a district of Naples, Italy. 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.[1] Commander JFC Naples reports to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Casteau, Belgium.


Originally, Allied Forces Southern Europe was one of two major NATO commands in the Mediterranean area, the other being Allied Forces Mediterranean based on the island of Malta, responsible for naval activities in the region. While Admiral Robert B. Carney of the U.S. Navy was appointed as Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe (CinCAFSOUTH) on 19 June 1951,[2] AFMED was not activated until 1953. The delay was due to negotiations and compromises between the Americans and the British, who wished to retain one of their commanders over Britain's traditional sea lines of communication stretching through the Mediterranean to the Suez Canal and beyond. From 1951 to 2003, the Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Southern Europe was always a United States Navy admiral, based at Naples, who also held the national appointment of Commander-in-Chief United States Naval Forces Europe.

When Greece and Turkey joined the alliance in early 1952, a new allied land sub-command, Allied Land Forces South-Eastern Europe (LANDSOUTHEAST), was created with its headquarters based in Izmir, Turkey, under the command of a U.S. Army General.[3][4] Later in 1953, the various national naval forces within Allied Forces Mediterranean were organised into six separate areas, each commanded by an Admiral (including one French (MEDOC), one Greek, one Turkish, one Italian and two British). In time of war, CINCAFMED would be responsible for securing the Sea lines of communications throughout the Mediterranean Sea.[3]

Some of AFSOUTH's first exercises took place in 1952. Operation Ancient Wall was a series of military maneuvers involving ground small unit tactical training, land-based tactical air support, and carrier-based air support under the overall command of Admiral Carney.[5] Exercise Grand Slam was a combined naval exercise held in the Mediterranean Sea between 25 February to 16 March 1952. The exercise included allied warships escorting three convoys of supply ships which were subjected to repeated simulated air and submarine attacks, as well as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations and naval gunfire shore bombardment.[6] Operation Longstep was a ten-day naval exercise held in the Mediterranean Sea held during November 1952. It involved over 170 warships and 700 aircraft, and it featured a large-scale amphibious assault along the western coast of Turkey.[7]

1953 AFSOUTH exercises included:

  • "Italic Weld" — a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy involving the United States, Italy, Turkey, and Greece[8]
  • "Weldfast" — a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving British, Greek, Italian, Turkish, and U.S. naval forces[8]

In 1957, Operation Deep Water simulated the defence of the Dardanelles from a Soviet attack. The exercise included an 8,000 strong amphibious landing.

The drawdown of the British Mediterranean Fleet, the military difficulties of the politically-decided command structure, and the withdrawal of the French from the military command structure forced a rearrangement of the command arrangements in the southern region. Allied Forces Mediterranean was disbanded on 5 June 1967, and all forces in the south and the Mediterranean assigned to AFSOUTH.[1]

AFSOUTH continued to conduct exercises in the 1960s and 1970s, among which was exercise 'Dawn Patrol,' a five-nation naval and air exercise conducted throughout the Mediterranean in 1974.[9] The U.S. contribution to the exercise was based on the USS America carrier battle group.

From 1967 the overall shape of AFSOUTH did not significantly change until the command was renamed in 2004. There were five principal subordinate commands (PSCs).[10] The number rose to six when Greece was taking part in the military structure; Greece withdrew from the NATO military structure after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and after some behind the scenes negotiating by NATO officials, returned in October 1980. Two land commands, Allied Land Forces Southern Europe and Allied Land Forces Southeastern Europe, were tasked to defend Italy and Turkey respectively. Each was directly responsible to Commander-in-Chief, AFSOUTH, and supported by a tactical air force, 5th Allied Tactical Air Force in Italy and 6th Allied Tactical Air Force in Turkey. The two allied tactical air forces were under an overall air command, Allied Air Forces Southern Europe, headquartered at Naples in Italy under a United States Air Force officer, ComAirSouth, responsible himself to CinCAFSOUTH. ComAirSouth held the U.S. national appointment of Commander Sixteenth Air Force for a long period.

Due to political considerations, command of the naval forces in the region was split. Allied Naval Forces Southern Europe, at Naples, operated most of the NATO allies' naval forces in the Mediterranean under an Italian admiral. But due to the U.S. desire to retain control of their nuclear-armed naval forces,[11] the United States Sixth Fleet reported directly to CinCAFSOUTH, supported by a separate headquarters named Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe (STRIKFORSOUTH).

The sixth command was an Allied command responsible for the land defence of Greece, named Allied Land Forces South-Central Europe or LANDSOUTHCENT. However it is not certain that it actually was ever operational, with the 1998/99 NATO Handbook listing it as 'yet to be activated.' Below these PSCs were smaller headquarters such as Maritime Air Forces, Mediterranean, at Sigonella, Sicily, responsible for coordination of the aerial anti-submarine effort, Submarine Forces, South,[12] and the Naval On-Call Force Mediterranean, a multinational escort squadron activated at intervals.

From 1992 AFSOUTH was heavily involved in NATO operations in the Balkans, initially with NATO seaborne enforcement of a UN arms embargo, Operation 'Maritime Monitor,' which began in July 1992. This operation was fused with a similar Western European Union effort and thus became Operation Sharp Guard from July 1993. AFSOUTH also directed activities such as Operation Deny Flight from AIRSOUTH headquarters in Italy. Commander-in-Chief AFSOUTH directed the NATO peacekeeping missions in Bosnia & Hercegovina, IFOR and SFOR, from December 1995. While technically in charge of KFOR from mid-1999, General Sir Mike Jackson's autobiography, Soldier, indicates General Wesley Clark at SHAPE in Belgium directly supervised many of KFOR's activities, without going through AFSOUTH, at least during the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps' tour as HQ KFOR in 1999.

The reorganisation of AFSOUTH as JFC Naples in 2004 was a part of NATO’s transformation, initiated by the Prague summit of 2002, aimed at adapting the allied military structure to the operational challenges of coalition warfare, to face the emerging threats in the new millennium. The new NATO Command Structure is leaner, more flexible, and focused on conducting a much wider range of missions.

NHQ Sarajevo remains operational, and also NATO Headquarters Tirana, an outgrowth of the former KFOR Communications Zone West originally established in 1999. Communication Zone West was retitled NHQ Tirana on 17 June 2002,[13] and it now performs a Defence Reform and Security Sector Reform advisory role, aiming to support the Albanian Armed Forces, now a member of NATO.

In 2013 a further command structure reorganisation began to take effect. Allied Maritime Command Naples,[14] Allied Air Command İzmir[15] and Allied Force Command Madrid were all deactivated.[16]

From 2013 Allied Command Operations started directing the Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum and Allied Joint Force Command Naples, and three component commands, Allied Air Command at Ramstein, Germany, Allied Land Command at Izmir, Turkey, and Allied Maritime Command at Northwood, UK.[17]


Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples, is responsible for conducting the full range of military operations throughout the NATO Area of Responsibility (AOR) and beyond in order to deter aggression and to contribute to the effective defence of NATO territory and forces, safeguard freedom of the seas and economic lifelines and to preserve or restore the security of NATO nations.[18]


  1. ^ a b Franco Veltri, AFSOUTH 1951-2004: Over Fifty Years Working for Peace and Stability, AFSOUTH, April 2004
  2. ^ "JFC Naples Fact sheet". Retrieved September 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Chapter 7 - The Military Structure". NATO the first five years 1949-1954. NATO. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  4. ^ Dr. Gregory W. Pedlow (2009). "The Evolution of NATO's Command Structure, 1951-2009" (PDF). Allied Command Operation (ACO). NATO. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  5. ^ "The NATO Exercises, Part 1" Flight (September 26, 1952) p. 402-404
  6. ^ "U. S. Navymen Work on NATO Team" (PDF). All Hands. BUPERS - U.S. Navy. September 1952. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  7. ^ "A Big Step Forward: Operation Longstep" (PDF). All Hands. Washington, DC: BUPERS. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  8. ^ a b "Chapter 9". NATO the first five years 1949-1954. NATO. Archived from the original on 10 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-03. 
  9. ^ Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, America III, accessed July 2011
  10. ^ NATO Handbook, 50th Anniversary Edition, NATO Office of Information and Press, November 1999, p.252, and IISS Military Balance, 1975-76, p.16-17
  11. ^ Sean Maloney thesis, Securing Command of the Sea, University of New Brunswick, 1992
  12. ^ "Commander Submarine Group 8". Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  13. ^ NHQT Factsheets
  14. ^ "Deactivation ceremony of Allied Maritime Command Naples". Headquarters Allied Joint Force Command Naples. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "NATO deactivates Allied Air Command Izmir". NATO. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  16. ^ "NATO's Allied Force Command Madrid deactivated". 13 June 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  17. ^ "Structure". NATO. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  18. ^ "Allied Joint Force Command Naples Factsheet". Joint Force Command Naples. Retrieved 30 May 2008. 

Further reading[edit]

  • John O. Iatrides, 'Failed Rampart: NATO's Balkan Front,' in Mary Ann Heiss (Editor), S Victor Papacosma (Editor), NATO and the Warsaw Pact: Intrabloc Conflicts, Kent State University Press, 2008

External links[edit]