December 1952 - Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH) ordered the establishment of a new command titled, Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces Southern Europe (COMSTRIKFORSOUTH – original title of STRIKFORNATO), after a decision by the Standing Group NATO.
15 March 1953 - STRIKFORSOUTH was established, with COMSTRIKFORSOUTH assigned as a Principle Subordinate Commander under CINCSOUTH.
The Commander was also the Commander of the U.S. SIXTH FLEET, a dual assignment that continues to this day. The STRIKFORSOUTH staff was initially comprised principally of U.S. Navy personnel because forces earmarked for STRIKFORSOUTH were from the U.S.. Other allied personnel from France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, and the United Kingdom were integrated into the staff to establish a close relationship with other Mediterranean NATO Commanders in planning and conducting exercises and training.
1957 - COMSTRIKFORSOUTH Staff functions were increased to include representation in the Joint Command and Operations Centres at Izmir, Turkey and Vicenza, Italy. The STRIKFORSOUTH area of responsibility encompassed the entire Mediterranean theater, from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Easter Mediterranean, including the Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean and Black Seas.
STRIKFORSOUTH was designated as the command that would most likely deal with any sudden emergencies in the Southern Region. A primary task of STRIKFORSOUTH naval units in all out war would be to participate in the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) counter-offensive by launching deep conventional air attacks or close air support missions in conjunction with any amphibious operations.
1960s - STRIKFORSOUTH served as a major advisor to Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) and Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in the area of Nuclear Strike Planning in response to the Soviet naval build-up in the Mediterranean. The operational readiness and effectiveness of STRIKFORSOUTH was increased during this period through the frequent conduct of nuclear strike exercises, which in turn brought about advances in ship-to-shore communications and targeting procedures.
1970s and 1980s - STRIKFORSOUTH assured the readiness of NATO’s maritime power projection forces in the Southern Region, which later came to include land missions, by planning and conducting large-scale NATO amphibious exercises.
1990s - STRIKFORSOUTH was directly responsible for developing and refining the Multinational Amphibious Task Force (MNATF) concept. These task forces were high readiness, multipurpose forces, which were task organized and supported by several nations. Additionally, they were capable of responding to the full spectrum of crisis situations from supporting humanitarian relief efforts to full-scale combat operations. STRIKFORSOUTH contributed to AFSOUTH operations in Kosovo by providing planning support and liaison officers.
1998 - Staff personnel established the Kosovo Verification Coordination Centre in the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia*. During Operation ALLIED FORCE, the first high intensity air campaign conducted by NATO, COMSTRIKFORSOUTH assumed command of NATO Carrier Forces.
1999 - Following the reorganization of the NATO Command Structure, STRIKFORSOUTH moved from the NATO Command Structure to the NATO Force Structure. CINCSOUTH took the opportunity created by this change to refine STRIKFORSOUTH’s operational focus and named it his Regional Reaction Force, acting in response to moves within NATO towards the creation of High Readiness, Rapidly Deployable forces capable of operating beyond the immediate boundaries of NATO.
1999 - 2004 – STRIKFORSOUTH participated in NATO trainings, exercises, and planning activities, but its status in NATO was still unclear.
01 July 2004 - After the USA, as lead nation, declared STRIKFORSOUTH a NATO force, the title was changed to Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), and its responsibility was broadened to cover the entire NATO's Area of Responsibility.
17 August 2004 - STRIKFORNATO moved from Allied Joint Force Command (JFC) Naples' Operational Control to SACEUR Operational Control. In 2004, STRIKFORNATO member nations accepted STRIKFORNATO as a NATO Expanded Task Force (ETF), and they decided to open the STRIKFORNATO Memorandum of Understanding to other NATO member nations. After negotiations, two NATO members, France and Poland, accepted to join STRIKFORNATO. After the execution of Exercise ALLIED ACTION-05, STRIKFORNATO has been certified as a 3-Star Maritime Component Command (at ETF level) at Initial Operational Capability (IOC).
June 2006 - France's first officer joined STRIKFORNATO.
1 August 2006 - SACEUR, General James L. Jones, declared STRIKFORNATO at Full Operational Capability (FOC).
3 July 2007 - Poland and STRIKFORNATO signed the Memorandum of Understanding, making Poland the 10th member nation, joining USA (lead nation), France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, and UK. Poland’s first naval officer was assigned to STRIKFORNATO.
January - July 2008 - International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) XI rotation - SHAPE directed STRIKFORNATO to act as a nucleus of the ISAF Headquarters Staff.
January - July 2009 – After successfully completing certification exercise Steadfast Juncture-08 in November 2008, STRIKFORNATO served as the 2-Star Maritime Component Command of the NATO Response Forces.
2010 – STRIKFORNATO successfully contributed to the exercises BALTIC HOST and EMERALD MOVE and as the Joint Task Force Commander for the US-hosted multilateral exercise BALTOPS.
2011 – In February, STRIKFORNATO served at the 2-Star Coalition Maritime Component Commander for the USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH Carrier Strike Groups Joint Task Force Exercise.
At the onset of the Libya crisis, STRIKFORNATO provided planning support to JFC Naples as they developed draft operational plans in preparation for the possibility of a NATO-led operation in Libya. STRIKFORNATO personnel, under national authorities, also augmented the Joint Task Force and the US led Joint Force Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC) staff for Operation ODYSSEY DAWN; including positions as Deputy Commander JFMCC, Liaison Officers to France and the UK, targeting and intelligence experts.
Throughout the NATO Libya operation, Combined Joint Task Force Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR (OUP) up to 60% of the STRIKFORNATO staff fulfilled key appointments until its successful termination by NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen on 31 October 2012.
STRIKFORNATO provided the bulk of the Current Operations Battle Watch Captains, maritime and air watch officers, formed and led the 1-Star Ground Effects Cell (GEC) to provide the Commander and staff with ground situational awareness, staffed national intelligence cells, the Joint Synchronisation and Execution Cell and provided the Deputy Directors for Targeting, GEC, Support, and Operations as well as the Political Advisor and the Deputy Commander OUP.
In November the reconstituted STRIKFORNATO staff successfully executed Exercise STEADFAST JUNCTURE as the 2-Star Maritime Component Commander, to become accredited for NATO Response Forces duties in 2012.
2012 – Portugal and STRIKFORNATO signed the Memorandum of Understanding on 24 April 2012. This made Portugal the 11th member nation, joining STRIKFORNATO.
Successfully served as the Joint Task Force Commander for the US-hosted multilateral exercise BALTOPS 12 between 31 May and 16 June.
As a part of the NATO Command Structure Reform, STRIKFORNATO relocated its Headquarters from Naples, Italy to Oeiras, Portugal in Summer 2012. STRIKFORNATO became fully operational in Oeiras as of 01 August 2012.
* Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.