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Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a ceremony marking full operation of NATO's Joint Force Command at Naval Station Norfolk on July 15, 2021, aboard the USS Kearsarge in Norfolk, Va. (AP/Helber) Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a ceremony marking full operation of NATO's Joint Force Command at Naval Station Norfolk on July 15, 2021, aboard the USS Kearsarge in Norfolk, Va. (AP/Helber)

Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a ceremony marking full operation of NATO's Joint Force Command at Naval Station Norfolk on July 15, 2021, aboard the USS Kearsarge in Norfolk, Va. (AP/Helber)

Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy August 27, 2021

Viral TikTok falsely claims NATO took over U.S.’s largest naval base

If Your Time is short

  • In July, NATO and U.S. military leaders announced that NATO’s joint command at Naval Station Norfolk, the first such headquarters in North America, was fully operational.

  • The alliance has not taken over the Norfolk naval base, a NATO official said.

A TikTok video falsely claims that the "Norfolk naval base has been taken by NATO," the alliance of countries primarily from Europe and North America.

"Apparently, the Norfolk naval base has been taken over by NATO because China and Russia are occupying the waters in the Atlantic Ocean," the speaker in the video says. "We all know Russia, Putin, he hates Biden. Well, listen up, Putin. We hate Biden too. He’s not our president."

In fact, Joe Biden is the U.S. president, having won a free and fair election. 

And while NATO, formally known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, recently finalized its new command in North America, the alliance did not take control of Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia, the world’s largest naval complex. That claim is inaccurate.

A screenshot of the Aug. 1 TikTok video falsely claiming NATO took over Naval Station Norfolk.

"It is false to say that Norfolk was ‘surrendered’ to NATO," a NATO official said in a statement to PolitiFact and other media organizations fact-checking similar social media claims. "JFC (Joint Force Command) Norfolk is hosted by the United States within the much larger national facility at Norfolk, and its commander also commands the U.S. Second Fleet."

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A Defense Department spokesperson also told fact-checkers that the Pentagon still has the same capabilities at Naval Station Norfolk as it always has.

NATO was established in 1949 and has since swelled to include the U.S. and 29 other member nations, according to its website. The U.S. was one of 12 founding members of NATO, and all decisions made by the alliance require consensus agreement among member nations. It is currently based in Brussels, Belgium.

In July, NATO announced the full operational readiness and official launch of the Joint Force Command Norfolk, the first such headquarters in North America and the third around the world, along with similar regional commands in Brunssum, Netherlands, and Naples, Italy.

"It's the mission of this command to fight the battle of the Atlantic in the event of armed conflict," Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the July 15 ceremony marking full operation of Joint Force Command Norfolk.

The command was three years in the making, Milley said. The city of Norfolk unveiled welcome signs calling it "NATO’s home in North America" as early as 2018, PolitiFact found.

But PolitiFact found no evidence that the recognition of the NATO joint command as an operation ready for battle means the alliance took over Naval Station Norfolk.

We rate this TikTok video False.

Our Sources

TikTok video (archived), Aug. 1, 2021

U.S. Navy, "Naval Station Norfolk," accessed Aug. 26, 2021

Check Your Fact, "Fact Check: Has the Pentagon Surrenderd Norfolk Naval Base to NATO?" Aug. 6, 2021

Verify, "False claims circulate online after NATO announces HQ in Norfolk, Va., is 'fully operational,'" Aug. 3, 2021

Military.com, "Looking to Be Prepared for a War in the Atlantic, NATO Launches New Command," July 16, 2021

U.S. Department of Defense, "Milley Marks Full Operational Capability of NATO Command in Norfolk," July 15, 2021

North Atlantic Treaty Organization, "Allied Joint Force Command Norfolk declares Full Operational Capability," July 15, 2021

Defense News, "As new NATO command becomes fully operational, top US military officer issues warning over ‘great power war,'" July 15, 2021

Emailed statement from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Aug. 26, 2021

Email correspondence with the Commander, Navy Installations Command, Aug. 26, 2021

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Viral TikTok falsely claims NATO took over U.S.’s largest naval base

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