Supreme Allied Commander
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 Western Allies during World War II, and is currently used only within NATO. Dwight Eisenhower served as Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (SCAEF) for the Battle of Normandy during World War II. The current commander of NATO's Allied Cand South East Asia (SACSEA) and Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (SCAEF) in northwest Europe. The Allied Mediterranean theatre's Commander-in-Chief, Allied Force, the American Commander-in-Chief South West Pacific and Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Areas also functioned as de facto supreme commanders. These commanders reported to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, although in the case of the American commanders in the Pacific and SACSEA, the relevant national command authorities of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Chiefs of Staff Committee had responsibility of the main conduct of the war in the theatre of operations.
General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower had the highest profile of the supreme commanders. He served successively as the Allied Mediterranean theatre's Commander in Chief, Allied Force and then as European theatre's Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force (SCAEF). Eisenhower was succeeded as Commander in Chief, Allied Force by Field Marshal Henry Maitland Wilson who was in turn succeeded by Field Marshal Harold Alexander who continued in charge of allied forces until the end of the war. The post of Supreme Commander South East Asia Command (SACSEA) was occupied throughout most of its existence by Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. The post of the American Commander-in-Chief South West Pacific was held by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.
Following the end of the war, the term came into use again with the formation of NATO, at which point Eisenhower again found himself as Supreme Allied Commander.
The NATO structure is divided into two commands, one for operations and one for transformation. Each has a Supreme Allied Commander as highest-ranking military officer.
- Allied Command Operations (ACO) is located at SHAPE, Mons, Belgium. It is headed by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), a U.S. four-star general or admiral with the dual-hatted role of heading U.S. European Command. (For legal reasons SACEUR has retained the traditional title including Europe although the responsibilities were extended to all allied operations in 2003).
- Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is located in Norfolk, Virginia. It is headed by the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), a four-star general or admiral. This position is currently held by French Air Force General Jean-Paul Paloméros.
Until June 2003, the operational structure of NATO was divided into "Europe" and "Atlantic". Correspondingly the commanders were known as Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The first SACEUR (1951-1952) was General Dwight Eisenhower. The current[update] (since 2009) Commander is Admiral James G. Stavridis (Navy), who succeeded General Bantz J. Craddock (Army). The Supreme Commander is always an American, with a deputy officer from another NATO member. For a full list of officers appointed to the position of SACEUR, please see list
In June 2003, the SACLANT organisation was decommissioned and Allied Command Transformation was established. This is a transformational command, intended to reshape the NATO command structure to respond to rapidly changing world situations and technology. The commander of the organization is General Stéphane Abrial of the French Air Force. Abrial is the first non-American to hold a supreme commander role within NATO. The headquarters of ACT is at the former SACLANT headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, USA.
See also 
- Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
- Allied Command Transformation
- Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps
- Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force
- Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Occupied Japan