What is the NSHQ?

The NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) is the centrepiece of the NATO SOF Transformation Initiative (NSTI). It provides focused Special Operations advice to the SACEUR and the NATO Chain of Command and provides on a collaborative, inter-dependent platform to enhance the Alliance SOF network. Through the NSHQ, NATO is transforming the current NATO SOF capability, i.e. leader education and development, doctrine, training and planning, information systems and infrastructure.

NATO decided to implement this plan after a specific analysis of the lessons learned across multiple theaters, with the aim of expanding the NATO SOF community while enhancing its interoperability and capabilities. These aspects are fundamental to generate combined and joint units capable of conducting all Special Operations missions in support of the NATO Allied Command for Operations.


Why the NSHQ

The NSHQ Director, as member of SACEUR Special Staff, provides advice on Special Operations. According to this primary and essential function the NSHQ will enable and support NATO Special Operations Forces across the Alliance and provide the focal point for NATO Special Operations expertise to SACEUR and ACO.

The NSHQ, according to its NATO International Military Body status, can be tasked to support different elements of NATO and other National entities by deploying tailored planning and liaison teams.


NSHQ role in NATO

The NSHQ, established at SHAPE in Casteau, Belgium in June 2007 was redesignated March 1, 2010 as the NATO Special Operations Headquarters.  The co-location with the Allied Command Operations (ACO) strongly affirms the NSHQ's function and support in providing Special Operations advice to SACEUR.

The NSHQ is assigned to SHAPE, under operational command (OPCOM) of the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR). The NSHQ Commander reports directly to the SACEUR who employs the NSHQ in accordance with political and military decisions of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and NATO's Military Committee (MC).

The NSHQ coordinates the execution of tasks directly with the appropriate command or nations. The NSHQ interacts with national SOF Commanders, their representatives, other NATO bodies and entities such as the European Union, Partnership for Peace members and NATO "contact countries."