Stéphane Abrial

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General Stéphane Abrial, French Air Force, as of September 2009, is Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, the only NATO command based in the United States. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the point that “General Abrial’s assumption of command here today shows very visibly France retaking its full place in NATO’s integrated military structure.”[1] His headquarters will be at the Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

He comes to SACT from the head of the French Air Force, after French President Nicolas Sarkozy rejoined France to NATO.[2] In the summer of 2009, he led the introduction of the French Rafale fighter into operations in the Afghanistan War (2001-), as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force. [3]

He has substantial allied as well as French experience. In 1992 Abrial graduated from the U.S. Air War College in Montgomery, Ala., and from 1996 to 1999 he served at the International Military Staff in Brussels. During his career, he has had several assignments as an adviser to the French Prime Minister and President. He served as head of French air defense and operations, and most recently as Air Force Chief of Staff (France).

During 1990 and 1991, he was commander of the French Air Force’s 5th Fighter Squadron in the liberation of Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. He served with a German Luftwaffe unit from 1981 to 1984 and with a unit of the Greek Air Force in 1988. His wife is German, so he is trilingual in French, English and German. Abriel graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1974 and completed pilot training at the French Air Force Academy in 1976.


  1. French general assumes command of Allied Command Transformation, Allied Command Transformation Public Affairs Office, 18 September 2009
  2. James Stavridis (17 September 2009), "Flying Across the Atlantic", EUCOMversations: Official Blog of United States European Command
  3. "Gen. Stephane Abrial: French Air Force Chief", Defense News, 8 June 2009