NATO

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1948   Benelux, France, and the United Kingdom sign the Treaty of Brussels, a precursor to the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO.

1949   A riot breaks out in Austurvöllur square in Reykjavík, when Iceland joins NATO.

1949   Twelve nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

1949   The treaty creating NATO goes into effect.

1950   US General Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes supreme commander of NATO-Europe

1952   Dwight D. Eisenhower resigns as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

1955   Cold War: West Germany joins NATO.

1961   In a speech John F. Kennedy emphasizes that any attack on Berlin is an attack on NATO.

1962   Spiegel scandal: ''Der Spiegel'' publishes the article ''"Bedingt abwehrbereit"'' (''"Conditionally prepared for defense"'') about a NATO manoeuver called "Fallex 62", which uncovered the sorry state of the Bundeswehr (Germany's army) facing the communist threat from the east at the time. The magazine is soon accused of treason.

1974   Turkish occupation of Cyprus: Forces from Turkey invade Cyprus after a "coup d' etat", organised by the dictator of Greece, against president Makarios. NATO's Council praises the United States and the United Kingdom for attempts to settle the dispute. Syria and Egypt put their militaries on alert.

 
Encyclopedia
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO (icon ; ), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty
North Atlantic Treaty
The North Atlantic Treaty is the treaty that brought NATO into existence, signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. The original twelve nations that signed it and thus became the founding members of NATO were:...

 which was signed on 4 April 1949. The NATO headquarters are in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, Belgium, and the organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However, the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The first NATO Secretary General
Secretary General of NATO
The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the chairman of the North Atlantic Council, the supreme decision-making organisation of the defence alliance. The Secretary-General also serves as the leader of the organisation's staff and as its chief spokesman...

, Lord Ismay
Hastings Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay
General Hastings Lionel "Pug" Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay, KG, GCB, CH, DSO, PC was a British Indian Army officer and diplomat, remembered primarily for his role as Winston Churchill's chief military assistant during the Second World War and his service as the first Secretary General of NATO from 1952...

, famously stated the organization's goal was "to keep the Russians
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion—doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO's military structure in 1966.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 in 1989, the organization became drawn into the Breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s which resulted in NATO's first military operations in Bosnia from 1991 to 1995
NATO intervention in Bosnia
The NATO intervention in Bosnia consisted of a series of actions undertaken by NATO to establish and then preserve peace during and after the Bosnian War...

 and later Yugoslavia in 1999
Operation Allied Force
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

. Politically, the organisation sought better relations with former potential enemies to the east, which culminated with several former Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 states joining the alliance in 1999 and 2004. The September 2001 attacks signalled the only occasion in NATO's history that Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty has been invoked and consequently the 11 September attacks were deemed to be an attack on all nineteen NATO members. After 11 September, troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF
ISAF
ISAF may refer to:* International Sailing Federation, the world governing body for Olympic and other competitive sailing.* International Security Assistance Force, the NATO-led security mission operating in Afghanistan since 2001....

 and the organization continues to operate in a range of roles sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations and most recently enforced a NATO-led no-fly zone
No-fly zone
A no-fly zone is a territory or an area over which aircraft are not permitted to fly. Such zones are usually set up in a military context, somewhat like a demilitarized zone in the sky, and usually prohibit military aircraft of a belligerent nation from operating in the region.-Iraq,...

 over Libya
2011 military intervention in Libya
On 19 March 2011, a multi-state coalition began a military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which was taken in response to events during the 2011 Libyan civil war...

 in 2011 in accordance with UN SC Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, on the situation in Libya, is a measure that was adopted on 17 March 2011. The Security Council resolution was proposed by France, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom....

.

The Berlin Plus agreement
Berlin Plus agreement
The Berlin Plus agreement is the short title of a comprehensive package of agreements made between NATO and the EU on 16 December 2002. These agreements were based on conclusions of NATO's 1999 Washington summit, sometimes referred to as the CJTF mechanism, and allowed the EU to draw on some of...

 is a comprehensive package of agreements made between NATO and the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 on 16 December 2002. With this agreement the EU was given the possibility to use NATO assets in case it wanted to act independently in an international crisis, on the condition that NATO itself did not want to act—the so-called "right of first refusal
Right of first refusal
Right of first refusal is a contractual right that gives its holder the option to enter a business transaction with the owner of something, according to specified terms, before the owner is entitled to enter into that transaction with a third party...

". There are currently 28 member states of NATO, with the most recent being Albania and Croatia who joined in April 2009. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world's defence spending. The United States alone accounts for 43% of the total military spending of the world and the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy account for a further 15%.

Beginnings



The Treaty of Brussels
Treaty of Brussels
The Treaty of Brussels was signed on 17 March 1948 between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, as an expansion to the preceding year's defence pledge, the Dunkirk Treaty signed between Britain and France...

, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade
Berlin Blockade
The Berlin Blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War and the first resulting in casualties. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied...

 led to the creation of the Western European Union
Western European Union
The Western European Union was an international organisation tasked with implementing the Modified Treaty of Brussels , an amended version of the original 1948 Treaty of Brussels...

's Defence Organization in September 1948. However, participation of the United States was thought necessary to counter the military power of the USSR, and talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately.

These talks resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty
North Atlantic Treaty
The North Atlantic Treaty is the treaty that brought NATO into existence, signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. The original twelve nations that signed it and thus became the founding members of NATO were:...

, signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous; some Icelanders commenced a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot
1949 anti-NATO riot in Iceland
The Icelandic NATO riot of March 30, 1949 is arguably the most famous riot in Icelandic history. It was prompted by the decision of Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, to join the newly formed NATO, thereby involving Iceland directly in the Cold War, opposing the Soviet Union and re-militarizing...

 in March 1949.

The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

The treaty does not require members to respond militarily action against aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature. It is nonetheless assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. Further, the North Atlantic Treaty limits the organization's scope to regions above the Tropic of Cancer, which explains why the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 did not result in NATO involvement.

The creation of NATO brought about some standardization
Standardization
Standardization is the process of developing and implementing technical standards.The goals of standardization can be to help with independence of single suppliers , compatibility, interoperability, safety, repeatability, or quality....

 of allied military terminology
Military terminology
Military terminology refers to the terms and language of military organizations and personnel as belonging to a discrete category, as distinguishable by their usage in military doctrine, as they serve to depoliticise, dehumanise, or otherwise abstract discussion about its operations from an actual...

, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting U.S. practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements (STANAG
STANAG
STANAG is the NATO abbreviation for Standardization Agreement, which sets up processes, procedures, terms, and conditions for common military or technical procedures or equipment between the member countries of the alliance. Each NATO state ratifies a STANAG and implements it within their own...

s) codifies the standardization that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51 NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries. Fabrique Nationale de Herstal
Fabrique Nationale de Herstal
Fabrique Nationale d'Herstal — self identified as FN Herstal and often referred to as Fabrique Nationale or simply FN — is a firearms manufacturer located in Herstal, Belgium....

's FAL
FN FAL
The Fusil Automatique Léger or FAL is a self-loading, selective fire battle rifle produced by the Belgian armaments manufacturer Fabrique Nationale de Herstal . During the Cold War it was adopted by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries, with the notable exception of the United States...

 became the most popular 7.62 NATO rifle in Europe and served into the early 1990s. Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet
NATO phonetic alphabet
The NATO phonetic alphabet, more accurately known as the NATO spelling alphabet and also called the ICAO phonetic or spelling alphabet, the ITU phonetic alphabet, and the international radiotelephony spelling alphabet, is the most widely used spelling alphabet...

 have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.

Cold War



The outbreak of the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 in 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat level greatly (all Communist countries were suspected of working together) and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans. The 1952 Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO's Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to ninety-six division
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

s. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly thirty-five divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about fifteen ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in Italy and Scandinavia. Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO
Secretary General of NATO
The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the chairman of the North Atlantic Council, the supreme decision-making organisation of the defence alliance. The Secretary-General also serves as the leader of the organisation's staff and as its chief spokesman...

 as the organization's chief civilian was also created, and Baron Hastings Ismay
Hastings Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay
General Hastings Lionel "Pug" Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay, KG, GCB, CH, DSO, PC was a British Indian Army officer and diplomat, remembered primarily for his role as Winston Churchill's chief military assistant during the Second World War and his service as the first Secretary General of NATO from 1952...

 eventually appointed to the post.
In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Operation Mainbrace
Operation Mainbrace
Exercise Mainbrace was the first large-scale naval exercise undertaken by the newly established Allied Command Atlantic , one of the two principal military commands of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization . It was part of a series of NATO exerciseS jointly commanded by Supreme Allied Commander...

 brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway. Other major exercises that followed included Operation Grand Slam
Operation Grand Slam (NATO)
Exercise Grand Slam was an early major naval exercise of the newly formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization . This 1952 combined naval exercise took place in the Mediterranean Sea, and it included a naval force that was described as being "the largest armada to be assembled in that area since the...

, NATO's first naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, 'Mariner,' which involved convoy
Convoy
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support, though it may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas.-Age of Sail:Naval...

 protection, naval control of shipping, and striking fleet operations in the North Atlantic, Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy
Northern Italy
Northern Italy is a wide cultural, historical and geographical definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the northern part of the Italian state, also referred as Settentrione or Alta Italia...

, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe
Allied Air Forces Central Europe
Allied Air Forces Central Europe was the headquarters for NATO air forces in Central Europe from 1951 to 1967 and from 1974 to 1993.-History:It was first based at Fontainebleau , and originally activated in April 1951...

 (AAFCE), Monte Carlo a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving British, Greek, Italian, Turkish, and U.S. naval forces.

Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure. Meanwhile, while this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion ('Operation Gladio
Operation Gladio
Operation Gladio is the codename for a clandestine NATO "stay-behind" operation in Italy after World War II. Its purpose was to continue anti-communist actions in the event of a shift to a Communist party led government...

'), initially made by the Western European Union, were being transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO's armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association
NATO Tiger Association
The NATO Tiger Association or the Association of Tiger Squadrons was established in 1961. Promoted by French Defence minister Pierre Messmer, its role is to promote solidarity between NATO air forces...

 and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy
Canadian Army Trophy
The Canadian Army Trophy was a tank gunnery competition established to foster excellence, camaraderie and competition among the armoured forces of the NATO countries in Western Europe....

 for tank gunnery.

In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe. The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union's motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal. The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as "a decisive turning point in the history of our continent" by Halvard Lange
Halvard Lange
Halvard Manthey Lange was a Norwegian diplomat, politician and statesman.He became a member of the Norwegian Labour Party in 1927. Two years later, in 1929, he earned a Master of Arts degree...

, Foreign Minister of Norway at the time. A major reason for Germany's entry into the alliance was that without German manpower, it would have been impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion. Indeed, one of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

, signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

Three major exercises were held concurrently in the northern autumn of 1957. Operation Counter Punch, Operation Strikeback
Operation Strikeback
Operation Strikeback was a major naval exercise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that took place over a ten-day period in September 1957....

, and Operation Deep Water
Operation Deep Water
Operation Deep Water was a 1957 NATO naval exercise held in the Mediterranean Sea that simulated protecting the Dardanelles from a Soviet invasion. By controlling this bottleneck in a war situation, the Soviet Black Sea Fleet would be prevented from entering the Mediterranean.Operation Deep Water...

 were the most ambitious military undertaking for the alliance to date, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey.

French withdrawal from NATO command



NATO's unity was breached early in its history with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

's presidency of France starting in 1958. De Gaulle protested the United States' strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship
Special relationship
The Special Relationship is a phrase used to describe the exceptionally close political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military and historical relations between the United Kingdom and the United States, following its use in a 1946 speech by British statesman Winston Churchill...

 between it and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan
Harold Macmillan
Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, OM, PC was Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963....

 on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the US and UK, and also for expanding NATO's coverage to include areas of interest to France, most notably French Algeria
French Algeria
French Algeria lasted from 1830 to 1962, under a variety of governmental systems. From 1848 until independence, the whole Mediterranean region of Algeria was administered as an integral part of France, much like Corsica and Réunion are to this day. The vast arid interior of Algeria, like the rest...

, where France was waging a counter-insurgency and sought NATO assistance.

Considering the response he received to his memorandum unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began constructing an independent defense force for his country. He wanted to give France, in the event of an East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc instead of being drawn into a NATO-Warsaw Pact general war. On 11 March 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean Fleet from NATO command; three months later he banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s on French soil. This caused the United States to transfer two hundred military aircraft out of France and return control of the ten major air force bases
United States Air Force In France
During the early years of the Cold War, the United States Air Force deployed thousands of personnel and hundreds of combat aircraft to France to counter the buildup of Soviet forces in Eastern Europe....

 that had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967.

Though France showed solidarity with the rest of NATO during the Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a confrontation among the Soviet Union, Cuba and the United States in October 1962, during the Cold War...

 in 1962, de Gaulle continued his pursuit of an independent defence by removing France's Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

 and Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 fleets from NATO command. In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO's integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. This withdrawal forced the relocation of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe is the central command of NATO military forces. It is located at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons...

 (SHAPE) from Rocquencourt
Rocquencourt
Rocquencourt is a commune in the Yvelines department in the Île-de-France in north-central France.It is mostly known for:* hosting a research unit of INRIA ;...

, near Paris, to Casteau
Casteau
Casteau is a village of Belgium in the French-speaking region. With the others villages Chaussée-Notre-Dame-Louvignies, Horrues, Naast, Neufvilles, Soignies , and Thieusies, they compose the municipality of Soignies....

, north of Mons
Mons
Mons is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut, of which it is the capital. The Mons municipality includes the old communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Baudour , Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles,...

, Belgium, by 16 October 1967. France remained a member of the alliance, and committed to the defence of Europe from possible Communist attack with its own forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany throughout the Cold War. A series of secret accords between U.S. and French officials, the Lemnitzer-Ailleret Agreements, detailed how French forces would dovetail back into NATO's command structure should East-West hostilities break out.

Détente and escalation




During most of the Cold War, NATO maintained a holding pattern with no actual military engagement as an organization. On 1 July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to...

 opened for signature: NATO argued that its nuclear sharing
Nuclear sharing
Nuclear sharing is a concept in NATO's policy of nuclear deterrence, which involves member countries without nuclear weapons of their own in the planning for the use of nuclear weapons by NATO, and in particular provides for the armed forces of these countries to be involved in delivering these...

 arrangements did not breach the treaty as U.S. forces controlled the weapons until a decision was made to go to war, at which point the treaty would no longer be controlling. Few states knew of the NATO nuclear sharing arrangements at that time, and they were not challenged.

On 30 May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente. This was supposed to mean matching defences at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw Pact's offensive capabilities without spurring a further arms race
Arms race
The term arms race, in its original usage, describes a competition between two or more parties for the best armed forces. Each party competes to produce larger numbers of weapons, greater armies, or superior military technology in a technological escalation...

.

On 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of U.S. GLCM cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s and Pershing II theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position regarding nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track
NATO Double-Track Decision
The NATO Double-Track Decision is the decision of NATO from December 12, 1979 to offer the Warsaw Pact a mutual limitation of Medium-range ballistic missiles and Intermediate-range ballistic missiles combined with the threat that in case of disagreement NATO would deploy more middle range nuclear...

 policy. Similarly, in 1983–84, responding to the stationing of Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 SS-20 medium-range missiles in Europe, NATO deployed modern Pershing II missiles tasked to hit military targets such as tank formations in the event of war. This action led to peace movement
Peace movement
A peace movement is a social movement that seeks to achieve ideals such as the ending of a particular war , minimize inter-human violence in a particular place or type of situation, often linked to the goal of achieving world peace...

 protests throughout Western Europe.


With the background of the build-up of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, NATO decided, under the impetus of the Reagan presidency, to deploy Pershing II and cruise missiles in Western Europe, primarily West Germany. These missiles were theatre nuclear weapons intended to strike targets on the battlefield if the Soviets invaded West Germany. Yet support for the deployment was wavering and many doubted whether the push for deployment could be sustained. On 1 September 1983, the Soviet Union shot down a Korean passenger airliner when it crossed into Soviet airspace—an act which Reagan characterized as a "massacre". The barbarity of this act, as the U.S. and indeed the world understood it, galvanized support for the deployment—which stood in place until the later accords between Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

.

The membership of the organization at this time remained largely static. In 1974, as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, launched on 20 July 1974, was a Turkish military invasion in response to a Greek military junta backed coup in Cyprus...

, Greece withdrew its forces from NATO's military command structure but, with Turkish cooperation, were readmitted in 1980. On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when, following a referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance.

In November 1983, NATO manoeuvres simulating a nuclear launch caused panic in the Kremlin. The Soviet leadership, led by ailing General Secretary Yuri Andropov
Yuri Andropov
Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov was a Soviet politician and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 12 November 1982 until his death fifteen months later.-Early life:...

, became concerned that the manoeuvres, codenamed Able Archer 83, were the beginnings of a genuine first strike
First strike
In nuclear strategy, a first strike is a preemptive surprise attack employing overwhelming force. First strike capability is a country's ability to defeat another nuclear power by destroying its arsenal to the point where the attacking country can survive the weakened retaliation while the opposing...

. In response, Soviet nuclear forces were readied and air units in East Germany and Poland were placed on alert. Though at the time written off by U.S. intelligence as a propaganda effort, many historians now believe that the Soviet fear of a NATO first strike was genuine.

Post Cold War



The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO. This caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO's purpose, nature and tasks. In practice this ended up entailing a gradual (and still ongoing) expansion of NATO to Eastern Europe, as well as the extension of its activities to areas that had not formerly been NATO concerns.
The first post–Cold War expansion of NATO came with German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

 on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty
Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
The Treaty on the Final Settlement With Respect to Germany, was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic , and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the...

 earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east. The scholar Stephen F. Cohen argued in 2005 that a commitment was given that NATO would never expand further east, but according to Robert Zoellick
Robert Zoellick
Robert Bruce Zoellick is the eleventh president of the World Bank, a position he has held since July 1, 2007. He was previously a managing director of Goldman Sachs, United States Deputy Secretary of State and U.S. Trade Representative, from February 7, 2001 until February 22, 2005.President...

, then a State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 official involved in the Two Plus Four negotiating process, this appears to be a misperception; no formal commitment of the sort was made. In May 2008, Gorbachev repeated his view that such a commitment had been made, and that "the Americans promised that NATO wouldn't move beyond the boundaries of Germany after the Cold War".

On 10 and 11 April 1994, during the Bosnian War
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

, the United Nations Protection Force
United Nations Protection Force
The United Nations Protection Force ', was the first United Nations peacekeeping force in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslav wars. It existed between the beginning of UN involvement in February 1992, and its restructuring into other forces in March 1995...

 called in air strikes to protect the Goražde
Goražde
Goražde , is a city and municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina on the Drina river. It is located between Foča, Sokolac and Višegrad, and is administratively part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the center of the Bosnian Podrinje Canton.-Location:Goražde is situated on the...

 safe area, resulting in the bombing of a Serbian military command outpost near Goražde by 2 US F-16 jets acting under NATO direction. This was the first time in NATO's history it had ever done so. This resulted in the taking of 150 U.N. personnel hostage on 14 April. On 16 April a British Sea Harrier was shot down over Goražde by Serb forces.

As part of post–Cold War restructuring, NATO's military structure was cut back and reorganized, with new forces such as the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps established. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
The original Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was negotiated and concluded during the last years of the Cold War and established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry...

 agreed between NATO and the Warsaw Pact and signed in Paris in 1990, mandated specific reductions. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty
Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty
The Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty is a post–Cold War adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe , signed on November 19, 1999 during the OSCE's 1999 Istanbul summit. The main difference with the earlier treaty is that the troop ceilings on a bloc-to-bloc...

, signed some years later. France rejoined NATO's Military Committee in 1995, and since then has intensified working relations with the military structure. The policies of French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

 have resulted in a major reform of France's military position, culminating with the return to full membership on 4 April 2009, which also included France rejoining the integrated military command of NATO, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent.


New NATO structures were also formed while old ones were abolished: The NATO Response Force
NATO Response Force
The NATO Response Force is a "coherent, high-readiness, joint, multinational force package" of up to 25,000 troops that is "technologically advanced, flexible, deployable, interoperable and sustainable"...

 (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague summit
2002 Prague summit
The 2002 Prague summit was a NATO summit where the heads of state and government of the NATO member states met. Seven states were at this summit invited to begin accession talks with NATO: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. NATO's post-Cold War Open Door Policy...

 on 21 November. On 19 June 2003, a major restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation
Allied Command Transformation
Allied Command Transformation is a NATO military command, which was formed in 2003 after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation restructuring....

 (ACT), was established in Norfolk
Norfolk, Virginia
Norfolk is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. With a population of 242,803 as of the 2010 Census, it is Virginia's second-largest city behind neighboring Virginia Beach....

, Virginia, United States, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe is the central command of NATO military forces. It is located at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons...

 (ACO). ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations.

Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Northern and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague Summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit
2004 Istanbul summit
The 2004 Istanbul summit was held in Istanbul, Turkey from June 28 to June 29, 2004. It was the 17th NATO summit in which NATO's Heads of State and Governments met to make formal decisions about security topics...

.
The same month, NATO's Baltic Air Policing
Baltic Air Policing
The Baltic air-policing mission is a NATO air defence Quick Reaction Alert in order to guard the airspace over the three Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.-Mission:...

 began, which supported the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by providing fighters to react to any unwanted aerial intrusions. Four fighters are based in Lithuania, provided in rotation by virtually all the NATO states. Operation Peaceful Summit temporarily enhanced this patrolling during the 2006 Riga summit
2006 Riga summit
The 2006 Riga summit or the 19th NATO Summit was a NATO summit held in Riga, Latvia from November 28 until November 29, 2006. The most important topics discussed were the War in Afghanistan and the future role and borders of the alliance. Further, the summit focused on the alliance's continued...

.

The 2006 Riga summit
2006 Riga summit
The 2006 Riga summit or the 19th NATO Summit was a NATO summit held in Riga, Latvia from November 28 until November 29, 2006. The most important topics discussed were the War in Afghanistan and the future role and borders of the alliance. Further, the summit focused on the alliance's continued...

 was held in Riga
Riga
Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 702,891 inhabitants Riga is the largest city of the Baltic states, one of the largest cities in Northern Europe and home to more than one third of Latvia's population. The city is an important seaport and a major industrial, commercial,...

, Latvia, which had joined the Atlantic Alliance two years earlier. It is the first NATO summit
NATO summit
A NATO summit is a summit meeting that is regarded as a periodic opportunity for Heads of State and Heads of Government of NATO member countries to evaluate and provide strategic direction for Alliance activities....

 to be held in a country that was part of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and the second one in a former Comecon
Comecon
The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , 1949–1991, was an economic organisation under hegemony of Soviet Union comprising the countries of the Eastern Bloc along with a number of communist states elsewhere in the world...

 country (after the 2002 Prague summit
2002 Prague summit
The 2002 Prague summit was a NATO summit where the heads of state and government of the NATO member states met. Seven states were at this summit invited to begin accession talks with NATO: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. NATO's post-Cold War Open Door Policy...

). Energy Security was one of the main themes of the Riga Summit. At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and invited them to join. Both countries joined NATO in April 2009. Ukraine and Georgia were also told that they will eventually become members.

Missile defence


For some years, the United States negotiated with Poland and the Czech Republic for the deployment of interceptor missiles
Anti-ballistic missile
An anti-ballistic missile is a missile designed to counter ballistic missiles .A ballistic missile is used to deliver nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads in a ballistic flight trajectory. The term "anti-ballistic missile" describes any antimissile system designed to counter...

 and a radar tracking system in the two countries against wishes of local population. Both countries' governments indicated that they would allow the deployment. In August 2008, Poland and the United States signed a preliminary deal to place part of the missile defence shield in Poland that would be linked to air-defence radar in the Czech Republic. In answer to this agreement, more than 130,000 Czechs signed a petition for a referendum on the base, which is by far the largest citizen initiative since the Velvet Revolution
Velvet Revolution
The Velvet Revolution or Gentle Revolution was a non-violent revolution in Czechoslovakia that took place from November 17 – December 29, 1989...

, but it has been refused. The proposed American missile defence site in Central Europe is expected to be fully operational by 2015 and would be capable of covering most of Europe except parts of Romania plus Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.
In April 2007, NATO's European allies called for a NATO missile defence system which would complement the American national missile defense
National Missile Defense
National missile defense is a generic term for a type of missile defense intended to shield an entire country against incoming missiles, such as intercontinental ballistic missile or other ballistic missiles. Interception might be by anti-ballistic missiles or directed-energy weapons such as lasers...

 system to protect Europe from missile attacks and NATO's decision-making North Atlantic Council held consultations on missile defence in the first meeting on the topic at such a senior level. In response, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus. He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when...

 claimed that such a deployment could lead to a new arms race and could enhance the likelihood of mutual destruction. He also suggested that his country would freeze its compliance with the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
The original Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was negotiated and concluded during the last years of the Cold War and established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry...

 (CFE)—which limits military deployments across the continent—until all NATO countries had ratified the adapted CFE treaty
Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty
The Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty is a post–Cold War adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe , signed on November 19, 1999 during the OSCE's 1999 Istanbul summit. The main difference with the earlier treaty is that the troop ceilings on a bloc-to-bloc...

. Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Jakob Gijsbert "Jaap" de Hoop Scheffer is a retired Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal . He served as the 11th Secretary General of NATO from January 5, 2004 until August 1, 2009....

 claimed the system would not affect strategic balance or threaten Russia, as the plan is to base only ten interceptor missiles in Poland with an associated radar in the Czech Republic.

On 14 July 2007, Russia gave notice of its intention to suspend the CFE treaty, effective 150 days later. On 14 August 2008, the United States and Poland came to an agreement to place a base with ten interceptor missiles
US missile defense complex in Poland
The US missile defense complex in Poland, also called the European Interceptor Site was part of the Ballistic Missile Defense European Capability of the US, to be placed in Redzikowo, Słupsk, Poland, forming a Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system in conjunction with a US narrow-beam midcourse...

 with associated MIM-104 Patriot
MIM-104 Patriot
The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile system, the primary of its kind used by the United States Army and several allied nations. It is manufactured by the Raytheon Company of the United States. The Patriot System replaced the Nike Hercules system as the U.S. Army's primary High to Medium...

 air defence systems in Poland. This came at a time when tension was high between Russia and most of NATO and resulted in a nuclear threat on Poland by Russia if the building of the missile defences went ahead. On 20 August 2008 the United States and Poland signed the agreement, with a statement from Russia saying their response "Will Go Beyond Diplomacy" and is an "extremely dangerous bundle" of military projects." Also, on 20 August 2008, Russia sent word to Norway that it was suspending ties with NATO
NATO–Russia relations
NATO-Russian relations are relations between the NATO military alliance and Russia.Cooperation between Russia and NATO started in 1991. In 1994 Russia joined the Partnership for Peace programme...

.

On 17 September 2009, US President Barack Obama announced that the planned deployment of long-range missile defence interceptors and equipment in Poland and the Czech Republic was not to go forward, and that a defence against short- and medium-range missiles using AEGIS
Aegis combat system
The Aegis Combat System is an integrated naval weapons system developed by the Missile and Surface Radar Division of RCA, and now produced by Lockheed Martin...

 warships would be deployed instead. The announcement prompted varying reactions – in Central and Eastern Europe, especially in Poland, response was largely negative; while the Russian response was largely positive. Following the announcement, Russian President Dimitri Medvedev announced that a planned Russian Iskander surface to surface missile deployment in nearby Kaliningrad was also not to go ahead. The two deployment cancellation announcements were later followed with a statement by newly named NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calling for a strategic partnership between Russia and the Alliance, explicitly involving technological cooperation of the two parties' missile defence systems.

Bosnian War




The Bosnian War
Bosnian War
The Bosnian War or the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina was an international armed conflict that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and December 1995. The war involved several sides...

 began in 1992, as a result of the Breakup of Yugoslavia. NATO intervention began on 12 April 1993 with Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deny Flight was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization operation that began on April 12, 1993 as the enforcement of a United Nations no-fly zone over Bosnia and Herzegovina...

, enforcing a no-fly zone
No-fly zone
A no-fly zone is a territory or an area over which aircraft are not permitted to fly. Such zones are usually set up in a military context, somewhat like a demilitarized zone in the sky, and usually prohibit military aircraft of a belligerent nation from operating in the region.-Iraq,...

 under UN mandate over central Bosnia and Herzegovina until December 1995, the end of the war. In June 1993, Operation Sharp Guard
Operation Sharp Guard
Operation Sharp Guard was a multi-year joint naval blockade in the Adriatic Sea by NATO and the Western European Union on shipments to the former Yugoslavia. Warships and maritime patrol aircraft from 14 countries were involved in searching for and stopping blockade runners.The operation began on...

 commenced, and ran until October 1996. It provided maritime enforcement of the arms embargo
Arms embargo
An arms embargo is an embargo that applies to weaponry. It may also include "dual use" items. An arms embargo may serve one or more purposes:# to signal disapproval of behavior by a certain actor,# to maintain neutral standing in an ongoing conflict, or...

 and economic sanctions
Economic sanctions
Economic sanctions are domestic penalties applied by one country on another for a variety of reasons. Economic sanctions include, but are not limited to, tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas...

 against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first military action, shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone. A NATO bombing campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, began in August 1995, against the Army of the Republika Srpska, after the Srebrenica massacre
Srebrenica massacre
The Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide, refers to the July 1995 killing, during the Bosnian War, of more than 8,000 Bosniaks , mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, by units of the Army of Republika Srpska under the command of...

.

NATO air strikes that year helped bring the Yugoslav wars
Yugoslav wars
The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars, fought throughout the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats and Bosniaks on the other; but also...

 to an end, resulting in the Dayton Agreement
Dayton Agreement
The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement, Dayton Accords, Paris Protocol or Dayton-Paris Agreement, is the peace agreement reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio in November 1995, and formally signed in Paris on...

. As part of this agreement, NATO deployed a UN-mandated peacekeeping force, under Operation Joint Endeavor, first named IFOR
IFOR
The Implementation Force was a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina under a one-year mandate from 20 December 1995 to 20 December 1996 under the codename Operation Joint Endeavour. Its task was to implement the military Annexes of The General Framework Agreement for...

 and then SFOR
SFOR
The Stabilisation Force was a NATO-led multinational peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina which was tasked with upholding the Dayton Agreement. It replaced the previous force IFOR...

, which ran from December 1996 to December 2004. Following the lead of its member nations, NATO began to award a service medal, the NATO Medal
NATO Medal
The NATO Medal is an international military decoration which is awarded to various militaries of the world under the authority of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization . It is manufactured by Eekelers - Centini, International, of Hemiksem, Belgium...

, for these operations.

Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbors were set up, like the Partnership for Peace
Partnership for Peace
Partnership for Peace is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation program aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union; 22 States are members...

, the Mediterranean Dialogue
Mediterranean Dialogue
The Mediterranean Dialogue, first launched in 1994, is a forum of cooperation between NATO and seven countries of the Mediterranean. Its stated aim is "to create good relations and better mutual understanding and confidence throughout the region, promoting regional security and stability and...

 initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council , a NATO institution, is a multilateral forum created to improve relations between NATO and non-NATO countries in Europe and those parts of Asia on the European periphery. The member states meet to cooperate and consult on a range of political and security issues...

. On 8 July 1997, three former communist countries, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, and Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, were invited to join NATO, which finally happened in 1999. In 1998, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council
NATO–Russia relations
NATO-Russian relations are relations between the NATO military alliance and Russia.Cooperation between Russia and NATO started in 1991. In 1994 Russia joined the Partnership for Peace programme...

 was established.

Kosovo War



On 24 March 1999, NATO saw its first broad-scale military engagement in the Kosovo War
Kosovo War
The term Kosovo War or Kosovo conflict was two sequential, and at times parallel, armed conflicts in Kosovo province, then part of FR Yugoslav Republic of Serbia; from early 1998 to 1999, there was an armed conflict initiated by the ethnic Albanian "Kosovo Liberation Army" , who sought independence...

, where it waged an 11-week bombing campaign, which NATO called Operation Allied Force
1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

, against what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in an effort to stop Serbian-led crackdown on Albanian civilians in Kosovo. A formal declaration of war never took place (in common with all wars since World War II). The conflict ended on 11 June 1999, when Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milošević
Slobodan Milošević
Slobodan Milošević was President of Serbia and Yugoslavia. He served as the President of Socialist Republic of Serbia and Republic of Serbia from 1989 until 1997 in three terms and as President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000...

 agreed to NATO's demands by accepting UN resolution 1244
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, adopted on June 10, 1999, after recalling resolutions 1160 , 1199 , 1203 and 1239 , authorised an international civil and military presence in Kosovo ) and established the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo .Resolution...

. During the crisis, NATO also deployed one of its international reaction forces, the ACE Mobile Force (Land), to Albania as the Albania Force (AFOR), to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo. NATO then helped establish the KFOR, a NATO-led force under a United Nations mandate that operated the military mission in Kosovo. In August–September 2001, the alliance also mounted Operation Essential Harvest
Operation Essential Harvest
Operation Essential Harvest was a deployment mission in the Republic of Macedonia by NATO, officially launched on August 22, 2001 and effectively started on August 27...

, a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the U.N. Security Council to approve NATO military strikes, such as the action against Serbia in 1999, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed UN approval. The U.S./UK side claimed that this would undermine the authority of the alliance, and they noted that Russia and China would have exercised their Security Council vetoes to block the strike on Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, and could do the same in future conflicts where NATO intervention was required, thus nullifying the entire potency and purpose of the organization. Recognizing the post–Cold War military environment, NATO adopted the Alliance Strategic Concept during its Washington Summit in April 1999 that emphasized conflict prevention and crisis management.

Operations in Afghanistan




The 11 September attacks in the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in its history. The Article says that an attack on any member shall be considered to be an attack on all. The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty. The eight official actions taken by NATO in response to the attacks included Operation Eagle Assist
Operation Eagle Assist
Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Operation Eagle Assist began on October 9, 2001 after the North Atlantic Council's October 4 decision to operationalize Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, and ended on May 16, 2002...

 and Operation Active Endeavour
Operation Active Endeavour
Operation Active Endeavour is a maritime operation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It operates in the Mediterranean Sea and is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction. It has also collateral benefits in enhanced security of shipping in general...

, a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea and is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction as well as to enhance the security of shipping in general which began on 4 October 2001.

Despite this early show of solidarity, NATO faced a crisis little more than a year later, when on 10 February 2003, France and Belgium vetoed the procedure of silent approval concerning the timing of protective measures for Turkey in case of a possible war with Iraq. Germany did not use its right to break the procedure but said it supported the veto.
On the issue of Afghanistan on the other hand, the alliance showed greater unity: on 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two nations leading ISAF at the time of the agreement, and all nineteen NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on 11 August, and marked the first time in NATO's history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area. Canada had originally been slated to take over ISAF by itself on that date.

In August 2003, NATO commenced its first mission ever outside Europe when it assumed control over International Security Assistance Force
International Security Assistance Force
The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

 (ISAF) in Afghanistan. ISAF was initially charged with securing Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 and surrounding areas from the Taliban, al Qaeda and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the Afghan Transitional Administration
Afghan Transitional Administration
The Afghan Transitional Administration was the name of a temporary administration of Afghanistan put in place by the 2002 Loya Jirga and followed the Afghan Interim Administration which was installed after the Bonn Conference.-Background:Following the US Invasion in Afghanistan, a UN sponsored...

 headed by Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai
Hamid Karzai, GCMG is the 12th and current President of Afghanistan, taking office on 7 December 2004. He became a dominant political figure after the removal of the Taliban regime in late 2001...

. In October 2003, the UN Security Council authorized the expansion of the ISAF mission throughout Afghanistan, and ISAF subsequently expanded the mission in four main stages over the whole of the country. Since 2006, ISAF has been involved in more intensive combat operations in southern Afghanistan, a tendency which continued in 2007 and 2008. Attacks on ISAF in other parts of Afghanistan are also mounting.

In January 2004, NATO appointed Minister Hikmet Çetin
Hikmet Çetin
Hikmet Çetin is a Turkish politician former minister of foreign affairs and was leader of the Republican People's Party for a short time. He served also as the Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly....

, of Turkey, as the Senior Civilian Representative (SCR) in Afghanistan. Minister Cetin is primarily responsible for advancing the political-military aspects of the Alliance in Afghanistan. On 31 July 2006, a NATO-led force, made up mostly of troops from Canada, the United Kingdom, Turkey and the Netherlands, took over military operations in the south of Afghanistan
Coalition combat operations in Afghanistan in 2006
In January 2006, NATO's focus in southern Afghanistan was to form Provincial Reconstruction Teams with the British leading in Helmand Province and the Netherlands and Canada would lead similar deployments in Orūzgān Province and Kandahar Province respectively. The Americans with 2,200 troops stayed...

 from a U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition.

Due to the intensity of the fighting in the south, France has recently allowed a squadron of Mirage 2000 fighter/attack aircraft to be moved into the area, to Kandahar, in order to reinforce the alliance's efforts. If these caveats were to be eliminated, it is argued that this could help NATO to succeed. NATO is also training the military of Afghanistan
Military of Afghanistan
The military of Afghanistan is composed of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Army Air Force . Being a landlocked country, Afghanistan has no navy, and the private security forces who are sometimes seen wearing military uniforms are not part of Afghanistan's military...

 and the Afghan National Police
Afghan National Police
The Afghan National Police - ANP - is the primary national police force in Afghanistan. It serves as a single law enforcement agency all across the country. The Afghan police force was first created with the establishment of the Afghan nation in the early 18th century...

 to be better equipped in forcing out the Taliban.

Training mission in Iraq



In August 2004, during the Iraq War, NATO formed the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces in conjunction with the U.S. led MNF-I. The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) was established at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government
Iraqi Interim Government
The Iraqi Interim Government was created by the United States and its coalition allies as a caretaker government to govern Iraq until the Iraqi Transitional Government was installed following the Iraqi National Assembly election conducted on January 30, 2005...

 under the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546, adopted unanimously on June 8, 2004, after reaffirming previous resolutions on Iraq, the Council endorsed the formation of the Iraqi Interim Government, welcomed the end of the occupation and determined the status of the multinational force and its...

. The aim of NTM-I is to assist in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions so that Iraq can build an effective and sustainable capability that addresses the needs of the nation. NTM-I is not a combat mission but is a distinct mission, under the political control of NATO's North Atlantic Council. Its operational emphasis is on training and mentoring. The activities of the mission are coordinated with Iraqi authorities and the U.S.-led Deputy Commanding General Advising and Training, who is also dual-hatted as the Commander of NTM-I.

Operation Ocean Shield



Beginning on 17 August 2009, NATO deployed warships in an operation to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden
The Gulf of Aden is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is about 20 miles wide....

 and the Indian Ocean from Somali pirates
Piracy in Somalia
Piracy off the coast of Somalia has been a threat to international shipping since the second phase of the Somali Civil War in the early 21st century...

.

Operations in Libya


During the 2011 Libyan uprising, violence between protestors and the Libyan government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

 escalated, and on 17 March 2011 led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, on the situation in Libya, is a measure that was adopted on 17 March 2011. The Security Council resolution was proposed by France, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom....

, which called for a ceasefire, and authorized military action to protect civilians. A coalition that included several NATO members began enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya shortly afterwards. On 20 March 2011, NATO states agreed on enforcing an arms embargo against Libya with Operation Unified Protector
Operation Unified Protector
Operation Unified Protector was an NATO operation enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973 concerning the 2011 Libyan civil war and adopted on 17 February and 17 March respectively...

 using ships from NATO Standing Maritime Group 1
Standing NRF Maritime Group 1
Standing NATO Maritime Group One is one of NATO's standing maritime Immediate Reaction Forces. Prior to 1 January 2005 it was known as Standing Naval Force Atlantic...

 and Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1
Standing NRF Mine Countermeasures Group 1
Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation standing mine countermeasures Immediate Reaction Forces...

, and additional ships and submarines from NATO members. They would "monitor, report and, if needed, interdict
Interdiction
Interdiction is a military term that refers to the act of delaying, disrupting, or destroying enemy forces or supplies en route to the battle area. A distinction is often made between strategic and tactical interdiction...

 vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

". On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone from the initial coalition, while command of targeting ground units remains with the coalition's forces. NATO began officially enforcing the UN resolution on 27 March 2011 with assistance from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

By June, reports of divisions within the alliance surfaced as only eight of the 28 member nations were participating in combat operations, resulting in a confrontation between U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Robert Gates
Dr. Robert Michael Gates is a retired civil servant and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W....

 and countries such as Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Germany to contribute more, the latter believing the organization has overstepped its mandate in the conflict. In his final policy speech in Brussels on 10 June, Gates further criticized allied countries in suggesting their actions could cause the demise of NATO. The German foreign ministry pointed to "a considerable [German] contribution to NATO and NATO-led operations" and to the fact that this engagement was highly valued by President Obama.

While the mission was extended into September, Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

 that day announced it would begin scaling down contributions and complete withdrawal by 1 August. Earlier in the week it was reported Danish air fighters
Royal Danish Air Force
The Royal Danish Air Force is the air force of Denmark with the capability to undertake homeland defense and homeland security roles as well international operations.-History:...

 were running out of bombs. The following week, the head of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 said the country's operations in the conflict were not sustainable. By October 2011, NATO planes had flown about 9,500 strike sorties against pro-Gaddafi targets.

NATO plans to end its air mission in Libya on 31 October 2011. A political scientist said France and the United Kingdom were dominant in the attack on Libya, but the operation would not have been possible without United States support. "This was a success, but it does not guarantee NATO's long-term viability."

Membership


Map of NATO affiliations in Europe
Individual Partnership Action Plan
Individual Partnership Action Plan
Individual Partnership Action Plans, or IPAPs, are plans developed between NATO and different countries, that state the objectives and the communication framework for dialogue and cooperation between both parties...

Partnership for Peace
Partnership for Peace
Partnership for Peace is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation program aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union; 22 States are members...



NATO has added new members seven times since first forming in 1949 (the last two in 2009). NATO comprises 28 members: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Future enlargement


New membership in the alliance has been largely from Eastern Europe and the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, including former members of the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

. At the 2008 summit in Bucharest, three countries were promised future invitations: the Republic of Macedonia, Georgia and Ukraine. Though it has completed the requirements for membership, the accession of Macedonia is blocked by Greece, pending resolution of the Macedonia naming dispute
Macedonia naming dispute
A diplomatic dispute over the use of the name Macedonia has been an ongoing issue in the bilateral relations between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia since the latter became independent from former Yugoslavia in 1991...

. Cyprus also has not progressed toward further relations, in part because of opposition from Turkey.

Other potential candidate countries include Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which joined the Adriatic Charter
Adriatic Charter
The Adriatic Charter is an association formed by Albania, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia and United States of America for the purpose of aiding their attempts to join NATO. The Charter was signed on 2 May 2003 in Tirana under the aegis of USA...

 of potential members in 2008. Russia, as referred to above, continues to oppose further expansion, seeing it as inconsistent with understandings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 and U.S. President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 that allowed for a peaceful German reunification. NATO's expansion policy is seen by Moscow as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia.

Expenditures and strength


From "Data Relating to NATO Defence", estimates for 2010:
Country Defence expenditures,
million USD
Defence expenditures,
% of GDP at current prices
Defence expenditures,
USD per capita
Deployable military
in thousands
 Albania 242 2.0 39 10
 Belgium 5,238 1.1 274 34
 Kingdom of Bulgaria 832 1.7 45 30
 Canada 23,736 1.5 392 55
 Independent State of Croatia 923 1.5 102 16
 Czech Republic 2,672 1.4 102 24
 Denmark 4,486 1.4 452 18
 Estonia 333 1.8 107 5
 Early Modern France 52,017 2.0 465 234
 Germany 45,116 1.4 345 246
 Greece 8,860 2.9 406 128
 Hungary 1,355 1.1 60 20
 Iceland
 Italy 28,189 1.4 170 193
 Latvia 242 1.0 49 5
 Lithuania 329 0.9 52 8
 Luxembourg 267 0.5 291 0.9
 Netherlands 11,357 1.4 374 48
 Norway 6,393 1.5 660 20
 Poland 8,836 1.9 123 100
 Portugal 3,682 1.6 189 43
 Kingdom of Romania 2,140 1.3 34 69
 Slovakia 1,098 1.3 76 14
 Slovenia 772 1.6 208 7
 Spain 15,335 1.1 169 131
 Turkey 14,197 1.9 96 495
60,438 2.7 731 198
 United States 785,831 5.4 1,947 1,427
 NATO 1,084,915 3.5 860 3,579
Iceland has no armed forces.

Euro-Atlantic Partnership


A double framework has been established to help further co-operation between the 28 NATO members and 22 "partner countries".
  • The Partnership for Peace
    Partnership for Peace
    Partnership for Peace is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation program aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union; 22 States are members...

     (PfP) program was established in 1994 and is based on individual bilateral relations between each partner country and NATO: each country may choose the extent of its participation. The PfP program is considered the operational wing of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership. Members include all current and former members of the Commonwealth of Independent States
    Commonwealth of Independent States
    The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

    . Belarus joined NATO's Partnership for Peace in 1995.
  • The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
    Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council
    The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council , a NATO institution, is a multilateral forum created to improve relations between NATO and non-NATO countries in Europe and those parts of Asia on the European periphery. The member states meet to cooperate and consult on a range of political and security issues...

     (EAPC) was first established on 29 May 1997, and is a forum for regular coordination, consultation and dialogue between all fifty participants.


Dialogue
!rowspan=2|Contact countries
!colspan=2 rowspan=2|Map of NATO Partnerships
|-
!Commonwealth of
Independent States
!Other Cold War
socialist economies
!Militarily neutral Cold
War capitalist economies
|-
| Armenia
!Yugoslavia
| Austria
| Algeria
| Australia
|rowspan=7 colspan=2|

|-
| Azerbaijan
|
| Finland
| Egypt
| Japan
|-
| Belarus
| Republic of Macedonia
| Republic of Ireland
| Israel
| New Zealand
|-
| Kazakhstan
| Kingdom of Montenegro
| Malta
| Jordan
| South Korea
|-
| Kyrgyzstan
| Serbia
| Sweden
| Mauritania
|rowspan=5| 
|-
| Moldova
!Soviet Union
| Switzerland
| Morocco
|-
| Russia
| Georgia (country)
|rowspan=3| 
| Tunisia
|-
| Tajikistan
| Turkmenistan
|rowspan=2| 
| style="border-right:0; border-bottom:0;"|
| style="border-left:0; border-bottom:0;"|
|-
| Uzbekistan
| Ukraine
| style="border-top:0; border-right:0;"|
| style="border-top:0; border-left:0;"|
|}

  • The Mediterranean Dialogue
    Mediterranean Dialogue
    The Mediterranean Dialogue, first launched in 1994, is a forum of cooperation between NATO and seven countries of the Mediterranean. Its stated aim is "to create good relations and better mutual understanding and confidence throughout the region, promoting regional security and stability and...

     was established in 1994 to coordinate in a similar way with Israel and countries in North Africa.

  • The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative
    Istanbul Cooperation Initiative
    The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative is an initiative launched during NATO's 2004 Istanbul summit.During this summit, NATO leaders decided to elevate the Alliance’s Mediterranean Dialogue to a genuine partnership and to launch the ICI with selected countries in the broader region of the Middle East...

     was announced in 2004 as a dialog forum for the Middle East along the same lines as the Mediterranean Dialogue
    Mediterranean Dialogue
    The Mediterranean Dialogue, first launched in 1994, is a forum of cooperation between NATO and seven countries of the Mediterranean. Its stated aim is "to create good relations and better mutual understanding and confidence throughout the region, promoting regional security and stability and...

    . So far participants in it are some of the Gulf Cooperation Council members: Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates.

  • Other third countries also have been contacted for participation in some activities of the PfP framework
    Partnership for Peace
    Partnership for Peace is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation program aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union; 22 States are members...

     such as Afghanistan.

Individual Partnership Action Plans


Launched at the November 2002 Prague Summit, Individual Partnership Action Plan
Individual Partnership Action Plan
Individual Partnership Action Plans, or IPAPs, are plans developed between NATO and different countries, that state the objectives and the communication framework for dialogue and cooperation between both parties...

s (IPAPs) are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO.

Currently IPAPs are in implementation with the following countries:
(22 November 2002) (29 October 2004) (27 May 2005) (16 December 2005) (31 January 2006) (19 May 2006) (10 January 2008) (June 2008)

Contact countries


Since 1990–91, the Alliance has gradually increased its contact with countries that do not form part of any of the above cooperative groupings. Political dialogue with Japan began in 1990, and a range of non-NATO countries have contributed to peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia.

The Allies established a set of general guidelines on relations with other countries, beyond the above groupings in 1998. The guidelines do not allow for a formal institutionalization of relations, but reflect the Allies' desire to increase cooperation. Following extensive debate, the term Contact Countries was agreed by the Allies in 2000. The following countries currently have this status: (AUSCANNZUKUS
AUSCANNZUKUS
AUSCANNZUKUS is a naval C4 interoperability organization involving the nations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

) (AUSCANNZUKUS
AUSCANNZUKUS
AUSCANNZUKUS is a naval C4 interoperability organization involving the nations of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

)

Structures



The main headquarters of NATO is located on Boulevard Léopold III, B-1110 Brussels, which is in Haren
Haren, Belgium
Haren is an old municipality of Brussels in Belgium, that was merged into the municipality of the City of Brussels in 1921...

, part of the City of Brussels municipality. A new headquarters building is, , in construction nearby, due for completion by 2015. The design is an adaptation of the original award-winning scheme designed by Michel Mossessian
Michel Mossessian
Michel Mossessian is a French architect based in London, UK. Michel gained his diploma in architecture at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts UP N°8 in Paris, where he also engaged in philosophy under Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault...

 and his team when he was a Design Partner with SOM.

The staff at the Headquarters is composed of national delegations of member countries and includes civilian and military liaison offices and officers or diplomatic missions and diplomats of partner countries, as well as the International Staff and International Military Staff filled from serving members of the armed forces of member states. Non-governmental citizens' groups have also grown up in support of NATO, broadly under the banner of the Atlantic Council
Atlantic Council
The Atlantic Council is a Washington, D.C. think tank and public policy group whose mission is to "promote constructive U.S. leadership and engagement in international affairs based on the central role of the Atlantic community in meeting the international challenges of the 21st...

/Atlantic Treaty Association
Atlantic Treaty Association
The Atlantic Treaty Association is an umbrella organization which acts as a network facilitator in the Euro-Atlantic and beyond. The ATA draws together political leaders, academics, and diplomats in an effort to further the values set forth in the North Atlantic Treaty - Democracy, Freedom,...

 movement.

NATO Council


Like any alliance, NATO is ultimately governed by its 28 member states. However, the North Atlantic Treaty
North Atlantic Treaty
The North Atlantic Treaty is the treaty that brought NATO into existence, signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. The original twelve nations that signed it and thus became the founding members of NATO were:...

, and other agreements, outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. Each of the 28 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank). Several countries have diplomatic missions to NATO through embassies in Belgium.

Together, the Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council
North Atlantic Council
North Atlantic Council is the most senior political governing body of NATO established by Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty. The NAC can be held at the Permanent Representative Level , or can be composed of member states' Ministers of State, Defense, or Heads of Government. The NAC has the...

 (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO. From time to time the Council also meets at higher level meetings involving foreign minister
Foreign minister
A Minister of Foreign Affairs, or foreign minister, is a cabinet minister who helps form the foreign policy of a sovereign state. The foreign minister is often regarded as the most senior ministerial position below that of the head of government . It is often granted to the deputy prime minister in...

s, defence ministers or heads of state or government (HOSG) and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding NATO's policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. NATO summit
NATO summit
A NATO summit is a summit meeting that is regarded as a periodic opportunity for Heads of State and Heads of Government of NATO member countries to evaluate and provide strategic direction for Alliance activities....

s also form a further venue for decisions on complex issues, such as enlargement.

The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO
Secretary General of NATO
The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is the chairman of the North Atlantic Council, the supreme decision-making organisation of the defence alliance. The Secretary-General also serves as the leader of the organisation's staff and as its chief spokesman...

 and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.
List of Secretaries General
# Name Country Duration
1 General Lord Ismay
Hastings Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay
General Hastings Lionel "Pug" Ismay, 1st Baron Ismay, KG, GCB, CH, DSO, PC was a British Indian Army officer and diplomat, remembered primarily for his role as Winston Churchill's chief military assistant during the Second World War and his service as the first Secretary General of NATO from 1952...

 United Kingdom 4 April 1952 – 16 May 1957
2 Paul-Henri Spaak
Paul-Henri Spaak
Paul Henri Charles Spaak was a Belgian Socialist politician and statesman.-Early life:Paul-Henri Spaak was born on 25 January 1899 in Schaerbeek, Belgium, to a distinguished Belgian family. His grandfather, Paul Janson was an important member of the Liberal Party...

 Belgium 16 May 1957 – 21 April 1961
3 Dirk Stikker
Dirk Stikker
Dirk Uipko Stikker, GBE, GCVO was a Dutch banker, industrialist, politician, and diplomat.Born in Winschoten, he studied law at the University of Groningen. After his studies he began a career in the banking sector. In 1935, he became director of Heineken International, the famous beer company...

 Netherlands 21 April 1961 – 1 August 1964
4 Manlio Brosio
Manlio Brosio
Manlio Giovanni Brosio was an Italian lawyer, diplomat, politician and the fourth Secretary General of NATO between 1964 and 1971.-Biography:...

 Italy 1 August 1964 – 1 October 1971
5 Joseph Luns
Joseph Luns
Joseph Marie Antoine Hubert Luns was a Dutch politician and diplomat of the defunct Catholic People's Party now merged into the Christian Democratic Appeal . He was the longest-serving Minister of Foreign Affairs from September 2, 1952 until July 6, 1971...

 Netherlands 1 October 1971 – 25 June 1984
6 Lord Carrington
Peter Carington, 6th Baron Carrington
Peter Alexander Rupert Carington, 6th Baron Carrington, is a British Conservative politician. He served as British Foreign Secretary between 1979 and 1982 and as the sixth Secretary General of NATO from 1984 to 1988. He is the last surviving member of the Cabinets of both Harold Macmillan and Sir...

 United Kingdom 25 June 1984 – 1 July 1988
7 Manfred Wörner
Manfred Wörner
Manfred Hermann Wörner was a German politician and diplomat. He served as the defense minister of West Germany between 1982 and 1988. He then served as the seventh Secretary General of NATO from 1988 to 1994. His term as Secretary General saw the end of the Cold War and the German reunification...

 Germany 1 July 1988 – 13 August 1994
Sergio Balanzino
Sergio Balanzino
Sergio Silvio Balanzino is an Italian diplomat.He studied as a Brittingham Foreign Scholar at the University of Wisconsin in Madison 1956-57. After graduating in Law from the University of Rome La Sapienza he joined the Italian foreign service in 1958.He served as the Italian ambassador to Canada...

 (acting)
 Italy 13 August 1994 – 17 October 1994
8 Willy Claes
Willy Claes
Willem Werner Hubert "Willy" Claes was the eighth Secretary General of NATO and a Belgian politician. He was a member of the Flemish Socialist Party....

 Belgium 17 October 1994 – 20 October 1995
Sergio Balanzino
Sergio Balanzino
Sergio Silvio Balanzino is an Italian diplomat.He studied as a Brittingham Foreign Scholar at the University of Wisconsin in Madison 1956-57. After graduating in Law from the University of Rome La Sapienza he joined the Italian foreign service in 1958.He served as the Italian ambassador to Canada...

 (acting)
 Italy 20 October 1995 – 5 December 1995
9 Javier Solana
Javier Solana
Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga, KOGF is a Spanish physicist and Socialist politician. After serving in the Spanish government under Felipe González and Secretary General of NATO , he was appointed the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary...

 Spain 5 December 1995 – 6 October 1999
10 Lord Robertson
George Robertson, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen
George Islay MacNeill Robertson, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, is a British Labour Party politician who was the tenth Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, between October 1999 and early January 2004; he succeeded Javier Solana in that position...

 United Kingdom 14 October 1999 – 17 December 2003
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo
Alessandro Minuto-Rizzo is an Italian diplomat who served as Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2001 to 2007, and as acting Secretary General of NATO from December 17, 2003 to January 1, 2004, in between the tenures of George Robertson, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer...

 (acting)
 Italy 17 December 2003 – 1 January 2004
11 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Jakob Gijsbert "Jaap" de Hoop Scheffer is a retired Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal . He served as the 11th Secretary General of NATO from January 5, 2004 until August 1, 2009....

 Netherlands 1 January 2004 – 1 August 2009
12 Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a Danish politician, and the 12th and current Secretary General of NATO. Rasmussen served as Prime Minister of Denmark from 27 November 2001 to 5 April 2009....

 Denmark 1 August 2009–present
List of Deputy Secretaries General
# Name Country Duration
1 Jonkheer van Vredenburch  Netherlands 1952–1956
2 Baron Adolph Bentinck  Netherlands 1956–1958
3 Alberico Casardi  Italy 1958–1962
4 Guido Colonna di Paliano
Guido Colonna di Paliano
Guido Colonna di Paliano was an Italian diplomat and European Commissioner.-Biography:Born in Naples, Colonna di Paliano graduated in law in 1930 from the University of Naples....

 Italy 1962–1964
5 James A. Roberts  Canada 1964–1968
6 Osman Olcay  Turkey 1969–1971
7 Paolo Pansa Cedronio  Italy 1971–1978
8 Rinaldo Petrignani  Italy 1978–1981
9 Eric da Rin  Italy 1981–1985
10 Marcello Guidi  Italy 1985–1989
11 Amedeo de Franchis  Italy 1989–1994
12 Sergio Balanzino
Sergio Balanzino
Sergio Silvio Balanzino is an Italian diplomat.He studied as a Brittingham Foreign Scholar at the University of Wisconsin in Madison 1956-57. After graduating in Law from the University of Rome La Sapienza he joined the Italian foreign service in 1958.He served as the Italian ambassador to Canada...

 Italy 1994–2001
13 Alessandro Minuto Rizzo  Italy 2001–2007
14 Claudio Bisogniero  Italy 2007–present

NATO Parliamentary Assembly


The body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly
NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Founded in 1955, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly serves as the consultative interparliamentary organisation for the North Atlantic Alliance. Its current President is Karl A...

 (NATO-PA) which meets at the Annual Session, and one other during the year, and is the organ that directly interacts with the parliamentary structures of the national governments of the member states which appoint Permanent Members, or ambassadors to NATO. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, currently presided by John S. Tanner
John S. Tanner
John S. Tanner is the former U.S. Representative for , serving from 1989 until 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party.-Early life, education and career:Tanner was born in Halls, Tennessee, and grew up in Union City, Tennessee...

, a U.S. Representative (Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

) from Tennessee, is made up of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as thirteen associate members. It is however officially a different structure from NATO, and has as aim to join together deputies of NATO countries in order to discuss security policies on the NATO Council.

The Assembly is the political integration body of NATO that generates political policy agenda setting
Political agenda
A political agenda is a set of issues and policies laid out by an executive or cabinet in government that tries to influence current and near-future political news and debate....

 for the NATO Council via reports of its five committees:
  • Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security
  • Defence and Security Committee
  • Economics and Security Committee
  • Political Committee
  • Science and Technology Committee

These reports provide impetus and direction as agreed upon by the national governments of the member states through their own national political processes
Political system
A political system is a system of politics and government. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems...

 and influencers to the NATO administrative and executive organizational entities.

Military structures




The second pivotal member of each country's delegation is the Military Representative, a senior officer from each country's armed forces, supported by the International Military Staff. Together the Military Representatives form the Military Committee, a body responsible for recommending to NATO's political authorities those measures considered necessary for the common defence of the NATO area. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council. The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee's authority stems from the NATO Military Committee, to which he is responsible in the performance of his duties. He chairs all meetings of the Military Committee and acts in an international capacity. In his absence, the Deputy Chairman of the Military...

 is Giampaolo Di Paola
Giampaolo Di Paola
Admiral Giampaolo di Paola is an Italian naval officer who has served in the government of Italy as Minister of Defense since November 2011...

 of Italy, since 2008.

Like the Council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of Defence, the most senior military officer in each nation's armed forces. Until 2008 the Military Committee excluded France, due to that country's 1966 decision to remove itself from NATO's integrated military structure, which it rejoined in 1995. Until France rejoined NATO, it was not represented on the Defence Planning Committee, and this led to conflicts between it and NATO members. Such was the case in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. The operational work of the Committee is supported by the International Military Staff.

NATO's military operations are directed by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee's authority stems from the NATO Military Committee, to which he is responsible in the performance of his duties. He chairs all meetings of the Military Committee and acts in an international capacity. In his absence, the Deputy Chairman of the Military...

, and split into two Strategic Commands commanded by a senior US officer and a senior French officer assisted by a staff drawn from across NATO. The Strategic Commanders are responsible to the Military Committee
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee's authority stems from the NATO Military Committee, to which he is responsible in the performance of his duties. He chairs all meetings of the Military Committee and acts in an international capacity. In his absence, the Deputy Chairman of the Military...

 for the overall direction and conduct of all Alliance military matters within their areas of command.

The Military Committee in turn directs two principal NATO organizations: the Allied Command Operations
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe is the central command of NATO military forces. It is located at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons...

 responsible for the strategic, operational and tactical management of combat and combat support forces of the NATO members, and the Allied Command Transformation
Allied Command Transformation
Allied Command Transformation is a NATO military command, which was formed in 2003 after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation restructuring....

 organization responsible for the induction of the new member states' forces into NATO, and NATO forces' research and training capability.

External links


  • NATO including Basic NATO Documents
  • Bridget Kendall, NATO searches for defining role BBC, February 2005
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly known as CBC and officially as CBC/Radio-Canada, is a Canadian crown corporation that serves as the national public radio and television broadcaster...

    , One for all: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (extracts, 1947–2003, link verified February 2009)
  • Fundación para el análisis y los estudios sociales (Spain), NATO: an Alliance for Freedom, 2005
  • United States Air Force
    United States Air Force
    The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

     Air War College
    Air War College
    The Air War College is a part of the United States Air Force's Air University, headquartered at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Air University's higher headquarters is Air Education and Training Command headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. The Air War...

    , Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding NATO, link verified February 2009