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North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Last modified: 2006-02-05 by rob raeside
Keywords: nato | otan | compass | international organization | isaf |
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[Flag of NATO] by Željko Heimer

Dark blue flag with a white emblem. The emblem consists of a compass rose (and lines reaching out from it). Dimensions: 2:3, 3:4 and 1:2.
Željko Heimer, 2 December 2003

See also:

The NATO flag is 3:4, as described at the Nato Website.

I quote a portion of the above referenced web site:

The Official NATO-color code is Pantone Color Guide No 280

Length: 400
Width: 300
Star: 150
Diameter of circle 115
Space between points of star
and start of white lines
Space between outer edge of flag
and extremity of white lines
Lee Thompson, 29 Sep 1998

A short note on this subject appeared in Recueil de l'Office Généalogique et Héraldique de Belgique III, Editions Tradition et Vie, Brussels, MCMLIV (1954), 120 p. plus card. A note on p. 72 'Le drapeau et l'emblème de l'OTAN' (The flag and the emblem of NATO) written by A. de Selliers de Moranville said the card shows the NATO flag. According to this note, the shade of blue corresponds to French norm Pr X.08-002 (AFNOR) and to No. 218 of the British Colour Council. Nowadays NATO officially mentions Pantone 280.
Jan Mertens, 5 December 2003

Significance of different dimensions

[Flag of NATO, 2:3] by Željko Heimer

[Flag of NATO, 1:2] by Željko Heimer

According to Pavillons nationaux et marques distinctives, it is also used in proportion 2:3 and 1:2.

Aircraft Marking

[NATO Aircraft Marking] by Željko Heimer 

The emblem, blue with the circle voided and the "voided" parts of the compass points made in white. In regard to the flag, the emblem is mirrored around a vertical axis. (This may depend of the side of the airplane? is there a front part of the emblem? I suppose the emblem is not obviously directed enough, so probably it is of no significance.)
Željko Heimer, 2 December 2003

NATO Allied Command Europe

[NATO Allied Command Europe] by Joe McMillan

I found the badge needed at the website for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, so here's the flag for NATO's Allied Command Europe. Proportions are based on my estimate from seeing the flag outside the SHAPE liaison office in the Pentagon. The flag is trimmed with gold (not golden yellow) fringe. The motto translates as "Vigilance is the price of liberty."

Joe McMillan, 22 May 2000

I've seen this flag listed in various flag books as the SHAPE flag, rather than as Allied Command Europe. Is there any distinction between the two entities?

Roy Stilling, 23 May 2000

SHAPE is the headquarters of ACE. I suppose that since the various components of ACE have their own flags, it is more correct to call this the flag of SHAPE. On the other hand, it is used to represent all of ACE, as shown in photographs of General Joseph Ralston, USAF, replacing General Wesley Clark, USA, as Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander in Chief, US European Command.

Joe McMillan, 23 May 2000


[Ensign of the Stanavforlant] by Željko Heimer

In proportion 3:5, the NATO flag is used as the ensign of the Stanavforlant (Standing Naval Force in the Atlantic) or Stanavforchan (Standing Naval Force in the Channel) vessels.
Ivan Sache, 8 January 2001
Source: Pavillons nationaux et marques distinctives

Flags of the Stanavforlant or Stanavforchan vessels (dimensions 3:5) are same as the organization flag, but for the ratio. I believe that this flag is not used as an ensign (i.e., at stern, to indicate ship's nationality) - the ships retain their national ensigns, and fly this flag somewhere else (mainmast port side?).
Željko Heimer
, 2 December 2003

Photos I've seen show the NATO flag flying at the starboard yardarm, but this may vary according to national practice and other flags that have to be flown.
Joe McMillan, 2 December 2003

There are four NATO organizations called "Immediate Reaction Forces (Maritime)." Three come under Allied Command Europe and one under Allied Command Transformation, formerly known as Allied Command Atlantic.

Under Allied Command Europe:
- Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED), known before 1992 as Naval On-Call Force Mediterranean (NAVOCFORMED). A force of about 8 destroyers and frigates reporting to Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH).
- Mine Countermeasures Force South (MCMFORSOUTH), formerly MCM Force Mediterranean. Minehunters and minesweepers, also under AFSOUTH.
- Mine Countermeasures Force North (MCMFORNORTH), formerly STANAVFORCHAN. Similar to MCMFORSOUTH, but subordinated to Allied Forces Northern Europe. STANAVFORCHAN was never the commander of an entire region; as I understand it it was always pretty much a mine warfare force. There was once an allied CINCCHAN, but it disappeared quite a while back and its very small geographic domain was divided among the other two, much larger commands.

Under Allied Command Transformation:
- Standing Naval Force Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT), created 1968, made up of 6-10 destroyers, frigates, and a support ship or two.

So MCMFORNORTH is the successor of STANAVFORCHAN, but MCMFORSOUTH is not the successor of STANAVFORLANT.

Joe McMillan, 2 December 2003

STANAVFORCHAN commander's pennant

[Stanavforchan commander's ensign] 3:5 by Željko Heimer

In proportion 3:5, but in trapezoidal, swallow-tailed shape, and with the lines around the compass removed, it is the ensign used by the Stanavforchan commander.
Ivan Sache, 8 January 2001
Source: Pavillons nationaux et marques distinctives

The COMSTANAVFORCHAN has been changed into COMMCMFORNORTH (Commander Mine Counter Measure Forces Northern Europe). The same pennant is also flown by COMMCMFORSOUTH (Southern Europe). The flag is not trapezoidal anymore but rectangular, still with swallowtail.
Roel Vandenvonder, 7 June 2002

A dark blue broad pennant (i.e., swallow tailed triangular pennant) with the white emblem next to the hoist (without the outlaying lines). The emblem here is slightly different, regarding the with of the ring and fact that it touches the compass points. Album des Pavillons (2000) does not give any hint that there may be a similar pennant for Stanavforlant, so maybe there was none.
Željko Heimer, 2 December 2003

Commander pennant of STANAVFORLANT (Dutch usage)

[Stanavforlant commander's ensign] by Gerard van der Vaart, 4 October 2001

The Netherlands navy uses a similar flag but with two shades of blue. According to NL navy regulations (VVKM 19 bijlage O, p.65) this is the commander ensign of STANAVFORLANT or STANAVFORCHAN. Two sizes, both 2:3.
Gerard van der Vaart, 4 October 2001

A slightly different flag prescribed for the purpose in the Dutch naval regulations, having the field of lighter blue shade (but the "voided" parts of the compass points still dark blue), otherwise very much like the design in the Album des Pavillons (2000) (regarding the shape of the emblem), but the ratio being 2:3.
Željko Heimer, 2 December 2003

International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan

[International Stabilisation Force in Afghanistan] by Sean McKinniss

At the official website for NATO, there is a picture of various national flags. With these national flags is a flag of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, is a multinational peacekeeping force supervised by NATO. The flag of this force is incredibly simplistic. It has a black field with the white letters "ISAF" on it.

SeanMcKinniss, 19 April 2003

[International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan] by Jens Pattke

Yahoo News reported the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Gen. James Jones handing over the ISAF flag he received from Commander of ISAF-III Lt. Gen. Norbert Van Heyst of Germany to Lt. Gen. Gotz F.E. Gliemeroth during a handover ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 11, 2003. NATO took command of the 5,000-strong international peacekeeping force in the Afghan capital, a historic move that marks the alliance's first operation outside Europe since it was created 54 years ago. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)
Mark Sensen
, 11 August 2003

[International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan] by Eugene Ipavec

I saw a new flag in photos of the recent transfer of command to Turkey. The Arabic inscription appears higher up on shoulder patches and some logos--like the smile in a smiley face--but on the flag it is shifted downward, nestled parallel to the line of the white circle. There are apparently yet further variants: shows one that has a much smaller logo, different font and a thicker circle.
Eugene Ipavec, 17 February 2005

See also:

International Military Staff

[International Military Staff] by Sean McKinniss

The good people at NATO sent me an image of the badge of the International Military Staff. I have converted it and cleaned it up here. The flag is primarily used at ceremonial occasions or during conferences and meetings.

Sean McKinniss, 22 April 2003

NATO Response Force

[International Military Staff] by Santiago Tazón

The new NATO Response Force (NRF) was formally inaugurated at Brunssum (the Netherlands) on 15 October 2003. The NRF is a tri-service rapid response force with contributions of Spain, France, Germany and U.S.A. For the first time in its history, NATO will have a combined air, land, sea and special operations force under a single commander. The NRF colours were also presented. Purple field with the NRF logo in the center and a gold fringe all around except hoist. The NRF logo consist in NRF letters and the NATO star over a blue background and a black diagonal stripe.

Santiago Tazón, 7 November 2003