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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental
military alliance A military alliance is an international agreement concerning national security in which the contracting parties agree to mutual protection and support in case of a crisis that has not been identified in advance. (Online) Military alliances d ...
between 27 European countries, 2 North American countries, and 1 Eurasian country. The organization implements the
North Atlantic Treaty The North Atlantic Treaty, also referred to as the Washington Treaty, is the treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international ...
that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO constitutes a system of
collective security Collective security can be understood as a security arrangement, political, regional, or global, in which each state in the system accepts that the security of one is the concern of all, and therefore commits to a collective response to threats ...
, whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. The NATO headquarters are located in
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brussel ...

Brussels
,
Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. G ...

Belgium
, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near
Mons Mons (; German language, German and nl, Bergen, ; Walloon language, Walloon and pcd, Mont) is a City status in Belgium, city and Municipalities of Belgium, municipality of Wallonia, and the capital of the Hainaut Province, province of Hainaut, ...

Mons
, Belgium. Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 30. The most recent member state to be added to NATO was
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
on 27 March 2020. NATO currently recognizes
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and Pars pro toto#Geography, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sar ...

Bosnia and Herzegovina
,
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Wester ...
, and
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the List of European countries by area, second-largest country by area in Europe after Russia, which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares bo ...

Ukraine
as aspiring members. An additional 20 countries participate in NATO's
Partnership for Peace The Partnership for Peace (PfP) is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernme ...
programme, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programmes. The combined military spending of all NATO members in 2020 constituted over 57% of the global nominal total. Members agreed that their aim is to reach or maintain the target defence spending of at least 2% of their
GDP Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary In a 1786 James Gillray caricature, the plentiful money bags handed to King George III are contrasted with the beggar whose legs and arms were amputated, in the left corner">174x174px Money is any ...
by 2024.


History

On 4 March 1947, the Treaty of Dunkirk was signed by
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and Overseas France, several overseas regions and territories. The metro ...

France
and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...

United Kingdom
as a ''Treaty of Alliance and Mutual Assistance'' in the event of a possible attack by Germany or the Soviet Union in the aftermath of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
. In 1948, this alliance was expanded to include the
Benelux The Benelux Union ( nl, Benelux Unie; french: Union Benelux; lb, Benelux-Unioun), also known as simply Benelux, is a politico ''Politico'', known originally as ''The Politico'', is an American political journalism Political journalism i ...

Benelux
countries, in the form of the
Western Union The Western Union Company is an American worldwide financial services and communications company A company, abbreviated as co., is a Legal personality, legal entity representing an association of people, whether Natural person, natural, Lega ...
, also referred to as the Brussels Treaty Organization (BTO), established by the
Treaty of Brussels The Treaty of Brussels, also referred to as the Brussels Pact, was the founding treaty of the Western Union (alliance), Western Union (WU) between 1948 and 1954, when it was amended as the Modified Brussels Treaty (MTB) and served as the founding ...
. Talks for a new military alliance, which could also include North America, resulted in the signature of the
North Atlantic Treaty The North Atlantic Treaty, also referred to as the Washington Treaty, is the treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international ...
on 4 April 1949 by the member states of the Western Union plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The North Atlantic Treaty was largely dormant until the
Korean War The Korean War (South Korean: ; North Korean: , "Fatherland Liberation War"; 25 June 1950–27 July 1953) was a war between North Korea (with the support of China and the Soviet Union) and South Korea (with the support of the United Nations, ...

Korean War
initiated the establishment of NATO to implement it, by means of an integrated military structure: This included the formation of
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is the headquarters of the NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Allied Command Operations (ACO). Since 1967 it has been located in Casteau, north of the Belgium, Belgian city of Mons, but ...
(SHAPE) in 1951, which adopted the Western Union's military structures and plans, including
STANAG In NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American coun ...
s and bipartite SOFAs. In 1952, the post of
Secretary General of NATO The secretary general of NATO is the chief civil servant of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The officeholder is an international diplomat responsible for coordinating the workings of the alliance, leading NATO's international staf ...
was established as the organization's chief civilian. That year also saw the first major NATO maritime exercises, Exercise Mainbrace and the accession of
Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, Elláda, ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe Europe is a continent A contin ...

Greece
and
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkans in Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the B ...

Turkey
to the organization. Following the
London and Paris Conferences The London and Paris Conferences were two related conferences held in London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames ...
,
West Germany ) , capital = Bonnf , largest_city = Hamburg en, Hamburgian(s) , timezone1 = Central European Time, CET , utc_offset1 = +1 , timezone1_DST = Central Eu ...
was permitted to rearm militarily, as they joined NATO in May 1955, which was, in turn, a major factor in the creation of the Soviet-dominated
Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP), was a Collective security#Collective defense, collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poli ...
, delineating the two opposing sides of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, which began following World War II. Historians do not fully agree on its sta ...
. The building of the
Berlin Wall The Berlin Wall (german: Berliner Mauer, ) was a guarded concrete Separation barrier, barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Construction of the wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic (GDR ...

Berlin Wall
in 1961 marked a height in Cold War tensions, when 400,000 US troops were stationed in Europe. 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 The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovere ...
invasion – doubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and Overseas France, several overseas regions and territories. The metro ...

France
from NATO's military structure in 1966. In 1982, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance. The
Revolutions of 1989 The Revolutions of 1989 formed part of a revolutionary wave in the late 1980s and early 1990s that resulted in the end of communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. The period is often also called the Fall of Communism, and some ...
in Europe led to a strategic re-evaluation of NATO's purpose, nature, tasks, and focus on that continent. In October 1990,
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990 in eastern Eastern may refer to: Transportation *China Eastern Airlines, a current C ...
became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance, and in November 1990, the alliance signed the
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe The original Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) was negotiated and concluded during the last years of the Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officia ...
(CFE) in Paris with the Soviet Union. It mandated specific military reductions across the continent, which continued after the collapse of the
Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP), was a Collective security#Collective defense, collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poli ...
in February 1991 and
dissolution of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskovo Sojúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. (1988–1991) was the process of internal political, e ...
in that December, which removed the ''de facto'' main adversaries of NATO. This began a draw-down of military spending and equipment in Europe. The CFE treaty allowed signatories to remove 52,000 pieces of conventional armaments in the following sixteen years, and allowed military spending by NATO's European members to decline by 28% from 1990 to 2015. In the 1990s, the organization extended its activities into political and humanitarian situations that had not formerly been NATO concerns. During the break-up of Yugoslavia, the organization conducted its first military interventions in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999. These conflicts motivated a major post-Cold War military 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 changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe since the CFE treaty were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, which was signed at the 1999 Istanbul summit. Politically, the organization sought better relations with the newly autonomous
Central and Eastern Europe Central and Eastern Europe is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes also considered parts of Western Europe, Southe ...
an nations, and diplomatic forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbours were set up during this post-Cold War period, including the
Partnership for Peace The Partnership for Peace (PfP) is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernme ...
and the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative in 1994, the
Euro-Atlantic Partnership CouncilThe Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), a post– Cold War 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. States meet to c ...
in 1997, and the NATO–Russia Permanent Joint Council in 1998. At the 1999 Washington summit, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic officially joined NATO, and the organization also issued new guidelines for membership with individualized "
Membership Action Plan Enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the process of including new member states in NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the ...
s". These plans governed the addition of new alliance members: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009, Montenegro in 2017, and North Macedonia in 2020. The election of French President
Nicolas Sarkozy Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa (; ; born 28 January 1955) is a French politician who served as the 23th President of France The president of France, officially the President of the French Republic (french: Président de la ...

Nicolas Sarkozy
in 2007 led to 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
NATO Military Command Structure The Structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alli ...
, while maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent. Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requiring member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, was invoked for the first and only time after the
September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks, often referred to as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Wahhabi terrorist group Al-Qaeda against the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the ...
, after which troops were deployed to
Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pashto/Dari language, Dari: , Pashto: , Dari: ), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central Asia, Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the eas ...

Afghanistan
under the NATO-led
ISAF ' ps, کمک او همکاري ' , allies= , opponents= Taliban Al-Qaeda , commander1 = , commander1_label = Commander , commander2 = , commander2_label = , commander3 = , commander3_label = Chief of Staff , notabl ...
. The organization has operated a range of additional roles since then, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations and in 2011 enforcing a
no-fly zone A no-fly zone, also known as a no-flight zone (NFZ), or air exclusion zone (AEZ), is a territory or area established by a military power over which certain aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support f ...
over Libya in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973. Article 4, which merely invokes consultation among NATO members, has been invoked five times following incidents in the
Iraq War The Iraq WarThe conflict is also known as the Second Gulf War or the Third Gulf War by those who consider the Iran–Iraq War the first Gulf War. The war was also called the Second Iraq War referring to the Gulf War as the first Iraq war. The p ...
,
Syrian Civil War#REDIRECT Syrian civil war The Syrian civil war ( ar, الْحَرْبُ الْأَهْلِيَّةُ السُّورِيَّةُ, ''al-ḥarb al-ʾahlīyah as-sūrīyah'') is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria fought between the Syrian Ara ...

Syrian Civil War
, and Russia's annexation of Crimea. This annexation led to strong condemnation by NATO nations and the creation of a new "spearhead" force of 5,000 troops at bases in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. At the subsequent 2014 Wales summit, the leaders of NATO's member states formally committed for the first time to spend the equivalent of at least 2% of their
gross domestic product Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period. List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita, GDP (nominal) per capita does not, however, reflect ...
s on defence by 2024, which had previously been only an informal guideline. In 2014, only 3 out of 30 NATO members reached this target (including the US); by 2020 this had increased to 11. Taken together, in 2020, the 29 non-US member states had six consecutive years of defence spending growth, bringing their average spending to 1.73% of GDP. NATO did not condemn the 2016–present purges in Turkey. As a result of the Turkish invasion of , Turkey's intervention in Libya and the Cyprus–Turkey maritime zones dispute, there are signs of a schism between Turkey and other NATO members. NATO members have resisted the UN's , a binding agreement for negotiations for the total elimination of
nuclear weapon A nuclear weapon (also known as an atom bomb, atomic bomb, nuclear bomb or nuclear warhead, and colloquially as an A-bomb or nuke) is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either nuclear fission, fissi ...
s, supported by more than 120 nations.


Military operations


Early operations

No military operations were conducted by NATO during the Cold War. Following the end of the Cold War, the first operations, ''Anchor Guard'' in 1990 and ''Ace Guard'' in 1991, were prompted by the Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait refers to a two-day-long operation conducted by Iraq Iraq ( ar, ٱلْعِرَاق, '; ku, عێراق '), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆما ...
. Airborne early warning aircraft were sent to provide coverage of southeastern Turkey, and later a quick-reaction force was deployed to the area.


Bosnia and Herzegovina intervention

The
Bosnian War The Bosnian War ( sh, Rat u Bosni i Hercegovini / Рат у Босни и Херцеговини) was an international armed conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or ...
began in 1992, as a result of the break-up of Yugoslavia. The deteriorating situation led to United Nations Security Council Resolution 816 on 9 October 1992, ordering a
no-fly zone A no-fly zone, also known as a no-flight zone (NFZ), or air exclusion zone (AEZ), is a territory or area established by a military power over which certain aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support f ...
over central Bosnia and Herzegovina, which NATO began enforcing on 12 April 1993 with
Operation Deny Flight Operation Deny Flight was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernment ...
. From June 1993 until October 1996,
Operation Sharp Guard Operation Sharp Guard was a multi-year joint naval blockade File:C-47s at Tempelhof Airport Berlin 1948.jpg, 300px, Douglas C-47 Skytrain, C47s unloading at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, part of the airlift of supplies which broke the Soviet Unio ...
added maritime enforcement of the
arms embargoAn arms embargo is a restriction or a set of sanctions that applies either solely to weaponry or also to " dual-use technology." An arms embargo may serve one or more purposes: * to signal disapproval of the behavior of a certain actor * to maintain ...
and
economic sanctions Economic sanctions are commercial and financial penalties applied by one or more countries against a targeted self-governing state, group, or individual. Economic sanctions are not necessarily imposed because of economic circumstances—they ma ...
against the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, commonly referred to as FR Yugoslavia or simply Yugoslavia, was a country in the Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe i ...
. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first wartime action by shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating the no-fly zone. On 10 and 11 April 1994, the
United Nations Protection Force The United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR; also known by its French acronym FORPRONU: ''Force de Protection des Nations Unies''), was the first United Nations peacekeeping force in Croatia and in Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and H ...
called in air strikes to protect the Goražde safe area, resulting in the bombing of a Bosnian Serb military command outpost near Goražde by two US
F-16 The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine Multirole combat aircraft, multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it e ...

F-16
jets acting under NATO direction. In retaliation, Serbs took 150 U.N. personnel hostage on 14 April. On 16 April a British
Sea Harrier The British Aerospace Sea Harrier is a naval short take-off and vertical landing/VTOL, vertical take-off and landing jet fighter, reconnaissance and attack aircraft; the second member of the Harrier Jump Jet family developed. It first entered ...
was shot down over Goražde by Serb forces. In August 1995, a two-week NATO bombing campaign,
Operation Deliberate Force Operation Deliberate Force was a sustained air campaign conducted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), in concert with the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) ground operations, to undermine the military capability of the A ...
, began against the
Army of the Republika Srpska The Army of Republika Srpska ( sr, Војска Републике Српске/Vojska Republike Srpske; ВРС/VRS), commonly referred to in English as the Bosnian Serb Army, was the military of Republika Srpska (RS), the self-proclaimed Ser ...
, after the Srebrenica genocide. Further NATO air strikes helped bring the
Yugoslav Wars The Yugoslav Wars were a series of separate but related#Naimark, Naimark (2003), p. xvii. ethnic conflicts, war of independence, wars of independence, and Insurgency, insurgencies fought in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 to 2001, leading up to ...
to an end, resulting in the
Dayton Agreement The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known as the Dayton Agreement or the Dayton Accords ( hr, Daytonski sporazum, Serbian and Bosnian: / ), is the peace agreement reached at Wright-Patterson Air Force Bas ...
in November 1995. As part of this agreement, NATO deployed a UN-mandated peacekeeping force, under
Operation Joint Endeavor The Implementation Force (IFOR) was a NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance betwe ...
, named
IFOR The Implementation Force (IFOR) was a NATO-led multinational peace enforcement force in Bosnia and Herzegovina under a one-year mandate from 20 December 1995 to 20 December 1996 under the codename ''Operation Joint Endeavour''. Background NATO ...

IFOR
. Almost 60,000 NATO troops were joined by forces from non-NATO nations in this peacekeeping mission. This transitioned into the smaller
SFOR The Stabilisation Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (SFOR) was a NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental ...
, which started with 32,000 troops initially and ran from December 1996 until December 2004, when operations were then passed onto . Following the lead of its member nations, NATO began to award a service medal, the
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 The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du ...
, for these operations.


Kosovo intervention

upright=1.0, KFOR- MSU Ibar_Bridge_in_ Ibar_Bridge_in_Kosovska_Mitrovica">Mitrovica,_Kosovo.html" ;"title="Kosovska_Mitrovica.html" ;"title="New_Bridge,_Mitrovica.html" ;"title="Carabinieri Patrols in front of the New Bridge, Mitrovica">Ibar Bridge in Kosovska Mitrovica">Mitrovica, Kosovo">Kosovska_Mitrovica.html" ;"title="New_Bridge,_Mitrovica.html" ;"title="Carabinieri Patrols in front of the New Bridge, Mitrovica">Ibar Bridge in Kosovska Mitrovica">Mitrovica, Kosovo, 2019 In an effort to stop Slobodan Milošević's Serbian-led crackdown on Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA separatists and Albanian civilians in Kosovo, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1199 on 23 September 1998 to demand a ceasefire. Negotiations under US Special Envoy
Richard Holbrooke Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke (April 24, 1941 – December 13, 2010) was an People of the United States, American diplomat and author. He was the only person to have held the position of United States Assistant Secretary of State, Assistant Secr ...
broke down on 23 March 1999, and he handed the matter to NATO, which started a 78-day bombing campaign on 24 March 1999. Operation Allied Force targeted the military capabilities of what was then the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, commonly referred to as FR Yugoslavia or simply Yugoslavia, was a country in the Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe i ...
. During the crisis, NATO also deployed one of its international reaction forces, the
ACE Mobile Force (Land) The Allied Command Europe Mobile Force (AMF) was a small NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental militar ...
, to Albania as the Albania Force (AFOR), to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo. Though the campaign was criticized for high civilian casualties, including bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Milošević finally accepted the terms of an international peace plan on 3 June 1999, ending the
Kosovo War The Kosovo War was an armed conflict in Kosovo that started 28 February 1998 and lasted until 11 June 1999. It was fought by the forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (i.e. Serbia and Montenegro), which controlled Kosovo before the war ...
. On 11 June, Milošević further accepted
UN resolution 1244 United Nations Security Council resolution 1244, adopted on 10 June 1999, after recalling resolutions United Nations Security Council Resolution 1160, 1160 (1998), United Nations Security Council Resolution 1199, 1199 (1998), United Nations Secu ...
, under the mandate of which NATO then helped establish the KFOR peacekeeping force. Nearly one million refugees had fled Kosovo, and part of KFOR's mandate was to protect the humanitarian missions, in addition to deterring violence. In August–September 2001, the alliance also mounted
Operation Essential Harvest Operation Essential Harvest (or Task Force Harvest) was a deployment mission in the Republic of Macedonia by NATO, officially launched on August 22, 2001 and effectively started on August 27. Because national contributions were larger than expected, ...
, a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia. , 4,882 KFOR soldiers, representing 31 countries, continue to operate in the area. The US, the UK, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the UN 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 US/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 (; sh, Jugoslavija / ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; Pannonian Rusyn Image:Novi Sad mayor office.jpg, 250px, Mayor office written in four official languages used in the ...

Yugoslavia
, 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.


War in Afghanistan

The
September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks, often referred to as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Wahhabi terrorist group Al-Qaeda against the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the ...
in the United States caused NATO to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Charter for the first time in the organization's history. The Article states 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 was a NATO operation where E-3 Sentry, AWACS aircraft patrolled the skies over the United States following the September 11 attacks. On October 4, about a month after the September 11 attacks, the North Atlantic Council deci ...
and
Operation Active Endeavour Operation Active Endeavour was a maritime operation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It operated in the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and a ...
, a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction, and to enhance the security of shipping in general, which began on 4 October 2001. The alliance showed unity: on 16 April 2003, NATO agreed to take command of the
International Security Assistance Force ' ps, کمک او همکاري ' , allies= , opponents= Taliban Al-Qaeda , commander1 = , commander1_label = Commander , commander2 = , commander2_label = , commander3 = , commander3_label = Chief of Staff , nota ...
(ISAF), which included troops from 42 countries. 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. ISAF was initially charged with securing
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipality, forming part of the greater Kabul Province, an ...

Kabul
and surrounding areas from the
Taliban The Taliban ( ps, طالبان, ṭālibān, lit=students) or Taleban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), are a Sunni Islamist movement and military organisation in Afghanistan Afghanistan (; Pasht ...

Taliban
,
al Qaeda Al-Qaeda (; ar, القاعدة ', , translation: "The Base", "The Foundation", alternatively spelled al-Qaida and al-Qa'ida) is a Islamism, militant Sunni Islamist multi-national terrorist organization founded in 1988. by Osama bin Laden, Ab ...
and factional warlords, so as to allow for the establishment of the
Afghan Transitional Administration Afghan (Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language of the Indo-European family. It is known in Persian literature as Afghani (, ). The language is natively spoken by Pashtuns (also ca ...
headed by
Hamid Karzai Hamid Karzai (; Pashto Pashto (,; / , ), sometimes spelled Pukhto or Pakhto, is an Eastern Iranian language of the Indo-European family. It is known in Persian literature as Afghani (, ). The language is natively spoken by Pashtun ...

Hamid Karzai
. 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. On 31 July 2006, the ISAF additionally took over military operations in the south of Afghanistan from a US-led anti-terrorism coalition. Due to the intensity of the fighting in the south, in 2011 France allowed a squadron of
Mirage 2000 The Dassault Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine, fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It was designed in the late 1970s as a lightweight fighter to replace the Mirage III for the French Air Force (''Arm ...

Mirage 2000
fighter/attack aircraft to be moved into the area, to
Kandahar Kandahar (; Kandahār, , Qandahār) is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edit ...
, in order to reinforce the alliance's efforts. During its
2012 Chicago Summit The 2012 Chicago summit was a meeting of the heads of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or repr ...
, NATO endorsed a plan to end the Afghanistan war and to remove the NATO-led ISAF Forces by the end of December 2014. ISAF was disestablished in December 2014 and replaced by the follow-on training
Resolute Support Mission Resolute Support Mission or Operation Resolute Support is a NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental mil ...
. On 14 April 2021, NATO Secretary General
Jens Stoltenberg Jens Stoltenberg (born 16 March 1959) is a Norwegian politician who has served as the 13th Secretary General of NATO since 2014. A member of the Labour Party, he previously served as Prime Minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2 ...

Jens Stoltenberg
said the alliance had agreed to start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by May 1. Soon after the withdrawal of NATO troops started, the Taliban launched an , quickly advancing in front of collapsing
Afghan Armed Forces The Afghan Armed Forces are the military forces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. They consist of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Air Force. The President of Afghanistan is the Commander-in-Chief of the Afghan Armed Forces, whi ...
. By 15 August 2021, Taliban militants controlled the vast majority of Afghanistan and had encircled the capital city of
Kabul Kabul (; ps, , translit=Kābəl, ; prs, , translit=Kābol, ) is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipality, forming part of the greater Kabul Province, an ...

Kabul
. Some politicians in NATO member states have described the chaotic withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan and the collapse of the Afghan government as the greatest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding.


Iraq training mission

In August 2004, during the
Iraq War The Iraq WarThe conflict is also known as the Second Gulf War or the Third Gulf War by those who consider the Iran–Iraq War the first Gulf War. The war was also called the Second Iraq War referring to the Gulf War as the first Iraq war. The p ...
, NATO formed the
NATO Training Mission – Iraq 250px, The crest of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) was established in 2004 at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government under the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1546. The aim of NTM-I was ...
, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces in conjunction with the US-led MNF-I. The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) was established at the request of the Iraqi Interim Government under the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. The aim of NTM-I was 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 was not a combat mission but is a distinct mission, under the political control of the North Atlantic Council. Its operational emphasis was on training and mentoring. The activities of the mission were coordinated with Iraqi authorities and the US-led Deputy Commanding General Advising and Training, who was also dual-hatted as the Commander of NTM-I. The mission officially concluded on 17 December 2011.
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country located mainly on Anatolia in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkans in Southeast Europe. It shares borders with Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest; the B ...

Turkey
invoked the first Article 4 meetings in 2003 at the start of the
Iraq War The Iraq WarThe conflict is also known as the Second Gulf War or the Third Gulf War by those who consider the Iran–Iraq War the first Gulf War. The war was also called the Second Iraq War referring to the Gulf War as the first Iraq war. The p ...
. Turkey also invoked this article twice in 2012 during the
Syrian Civil War#REDIRECT Syrian civil war The Syrian civil war ( ar, الْحَرْبُ الْأَهْلِيَّةُ السُّورِيَّةُ, ''al-ḥarb al-ʾahlīyah as-sūrīyah'') is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria fought between the Syrian Ara ...

Syrian Civil War
, after the June 2012 interception of Turkish aircraft, downing of an unarmed Turkish McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, F-4 reconnaissance jet, and after a mortar was fired at Turkey from Syria, and again in 2015 after threats by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to its territorial integrity.


Gulf of Aden anti-piracy

Beginning on 17 August 2009, NATO deployed warships in an operation to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Piracy in Somalia, Somali pirates, and help strengthen the navies and coast guards of regional states. The operation was approved by the North Atlantic Council and involves warships primarily from the United States though vessels from many other nations are also included. Operation Ocean Shield focuses on protecting the ships of Operation Allied Provider which are distributing aid as part of the World Food Programme mission in Somalia. Russia, China and South Korea have sent warships to participate in the activities as well. The operation seeks to dissuade and interrupt pirate attacks, protect vessels, and abetting to increase the general level of security in the region.


Libya intervention

During the Libyan Civil War (2011), Libyan Civil War, violence between protesters and the Libyan government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi escalated, and on 17 March 2011 led to the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, 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, beginning with Opération Harmattan by the French Air and Space Force, French Air Force on 19 March. On 20 March 2011, NATO states agreed on enforcing an arms embargo against Libya with Operation Unified Protector using ships from NATO Standing NRF Maritime Group 1, Standing Maritime Group 1 and Standing NRF Mine Countermeasures Group 1, Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1, and additional ships and submarines from NATO members. They would "monitor, report and, if needed, interdiction, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenary, mercenaries". On 24 March, NATO agreed to take control of the no-fly zone from the initial coalition, while command of targeting ground units remained 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 US Defense Secretary Robert Gates 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 that day announced it would begin scaling down contributions and complete withdrawal by 1 August. Earlier that week it was reported Royal Danish Air Force, Danish air fighters were running out of bombs. The following week, the head of the Royal Navy said the country's operations in the conflict were not sustainable. By the end of the mission in October 2011, after the death of Colonel Gaddafi, NATO planes had flown about 9,500 strike sorties against pro-Gaddafi targets. A report from the organization Human Rights Watch in May 2012 identified at least 72 civilians killed in the campaign. Following a 2013 Libyan coup d'état attempt, coup d'état attempt in October 2013, Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan requested technical advice and trainers from NATO to assist with ongoing security issues.


Membership

NATO has thirty members, mainly in Europe and North America. Some of these countries also have territory on multiple continents, which can be covered only as far south as the Tropic of Cancer in the Atlantic Ocean, which defines NATO's "area of responsibility" under Article 6 of the
North Atlantic Treaty The North Atlantic Treaty, also referred to as the Washington Treaty, is the treaty A treaty is a formal legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international ...
. During the original treaty negotiations, the United States insisted that colonies such as the Belgian Congo be excluded from the treaty. French Algeria was however covered until 1962 Algerian independence referendum, their independence on 3 July 1962. Twelve of these thirty are original members who joined in 1949, while the other eighteen joined in one of eight enlargement rounds. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s,
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and Overseas France, several overseas regions and territories. The metro ...

France
pursued a military strategy of independence from NATO under a policy dubbed "Gaullo-Mitterrandism".
Nicolas Sarkozy Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa (; ; born 28 January 1955) is a French politician who served as the 23th President of France The president of France, officially the President of the French Republic (french: Président de la ...

Nicolas Sarkozy
negotiated the return of France to the integrated military command and the Defence Planning Committee in 2009, the latter being disbanded the following year. France remains the only NATO member outside the Nuclear Planning Group and unlike the United States and the United Kingdom, will not commit its nuclear-armed submarines to the alliance. Few members spend more than two per cent of their gross domestic product on defence, with the United States accounting for three quarters of NATO defence spending.


Enlargement

New membership in the alliance has been largely from
Central and Eastern Europe Central and Eastern Europe is a term encompassing the countries in Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes also considered parts of Western Europe, Southe ...
, including former members of the
Warsaw Pact The Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP), was a Collective security#Collective defense, collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poli ...
. Accession to the alliance is governed with individual
Membership Action Plan Enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is the process of including new member states in NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the ...
s, and requires approval by each current member. NATO currently has one candidate country that is in the process of joining the alliance:
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina,, abbreviated BiH or B&H, sometimes called Bosnia–Herzegovina and Pars pro toto#Geography, often known informally as Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, South and Southeast Europe, located within the Balkans. Sar ...

Bosnia and Herzegovina
.
North Macedonia North Macedonia, ; sq, Maqedonia e Veriut, (Macedonia before February 2019), officially the Republic of North Macedonia,, is a country in Southeast Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical region of Europe ...
signed an accession protocol to become a NATO member state in February 2019, and Accession of North Macedonia to NATO, became a member state on 27 March 2020. Its accession had been blocked by Greece for many years due to the Macedonia naming dispute, which was resolved in 2018 by the Prespa agreement. In order to support each other in the process, new and potential members in the region formed the Adriatic Charter in 2003.
Georgia Georgia usually refers to: * Georgia (country) Georgia ( ka, საქართველო; ''Sakartvelo''; ) is a country located at the intersection of Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the region of the European continent between Wester ...
was also named as an aspiring member, and was promised "future membership" during the 2008 summit in Bucharest, though in 2014, US President Barack Obama said the country was not "currently on a path" to membership. Russia continues to politically oppose further expansion, seeing it as inconsistent with informal understandings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and European and US negotiators that allowed for a peaceful German reunification. NATO's expansion efforts are often seen by Moscow leaders as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia, though they have also been criticized in the West. A June 2016 Levada Center, Levada poll found that 68% of Russians think that deploying NATO troops in the Baltic states and Poland—former Eastern bloc countries bordering Russia—is a threat to Russia. In contrast 65% of Poles surveyed in a 2017 Pew Research Center report identified Russia as a "major threat", with an average of 31% saying so across all NATO countries, and 67% of Poles surveyed in 2018 favour US forces being based in Poland. Of non-CIS Eastern European countries surveyed by Gallup in 2016, all but Serbia and Montenegro were more likely than not to view NATO as a protective alliance rather than a threat. A 2006 study in the journal ''Security Studies (journal), Security Studies'' argued that NATO enlargement contributed to democratic consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe.
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the List of European countries by area, second-largest country by area in Europe after Russia, which it borders to the east and north-east. Ukraine also shares bo ...

Ukraine
's Ukraine–NATO relations, relationship with NATO and Europe has been politically controversial, and improvement of these relations was one of the goals of the "Euromaidan" protests that saw the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Ukraine is one of eight countries in Eastern Europe with an Individual Partnership Action Plan. IPAPs began in 2002, and are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO. On 21 February 2019, the Constitution of Ukraine was amended, the norms on the strategic course of Ukraine for membership in the European Union and NATO are enshrined in the preamble of the Basic Law, three articles and transitional provisions. At the June 2021 Brussels summit, 2021 Brussels Summit, NATO leaders reiterated the decision taken at the 2008 Bucharest summit, 2008 Bucharest Summit that Ukraine would become a member of the Alliance with the Membership Action Plan (MAP) as an integral part of the process and Ukraine's right to determine its own future and foreign policy, of course without outside interference.NATO - News: Brussels Summit Communiqué issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels 14 June 2021, 14-Jun.-2021
/ref> On 30 November 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that an expansion of NATO's presence in Ukraine, especially the deployment of any Ballistic missile, long-range missiles capable of striking Russian cities or United States national missile defense, missile defence systems similar to those in Romania and Poland, would be a "red line" issue for Russia. Putin asked U.S. President Joe Biden for legal guarantees that NATO wouldn’t expand eastward or put "weapons systems that threaten us in close vicinity to Russian territory." NATO Secretary-General
Jens Stoltenberg Jens Stoltenberg (born 16 March 1959) is a Norwegian politician who has served as the 13th Secretary General of NATO since 2014. A member of the Labour Party, he previously served as Prime Minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2 ...

Jens Stoltenberg
replied that "It's only Ukraine and 30 NATO allies that decide when Ukraine is ready to join NATO. Russia has no veto, Russia has no say, and Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence to try to control their neighbors."


Partnerships with third countries

The
Partnership for Peace The Partnership for Peace (PfP) is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernme ...
(PfP) programme 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. Members include all current and former members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The
Euro-Atlantic Partnership CouncilThe Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC), a post– Cold War 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. States meet to c ...
(EAPC) was first established on 29 May 1997, and is a forum for regular coordination, consultation and dialogue between all fifty participants. The PfP programme is considered the operational wing of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership. Other third countries also have been contacted for participation in some activities of the PfP framework such as Afghanistan. The European Union (EU) signed a comprehensive package of arrangements with NATO under the Berlin Plus agreement on 16 December 2002. With this agreement, the EU was given the possibility of using 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". For example, Article 42(7) of the 1982 Treaty of Lisbon specifies that "If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power". The treaty applies globally to specified territories whereas NATO is restricted under its Article 6 to operations north of the Tropic of Cancer. It provides a "double framework" for the EU countries that are also linked with the PfP programme. Additionally, NATO cooperates and discusses its activities with numerous other non-NATO members. The Mediterranean Dialogue was established in 1994 to coordinate in a similar way with Foreign relations of Israel, Israel and countries in North Africa. The Istanbul Cooperation Initiative was announced in 2004 as a dialogue forum for the Middle East along the same lines as the Mediterranean Dialogue. The four participants are also linked through the Gulf Cooperation Council. In June 2018, Qatar expressed its wish to join NATO. However, NATO declined membership, stating that only additional European countries could join according to Enlargement of NATO#Article 10, Article 10 of NATO's founding treaty. Qatar and NATO have previously signed a security agreement together in January 2018. Political dialogue with Japan began in 1990, and since then, the Alliance has gradually increased its contact with countries that do not form part of any of these cooperation initiatives. In 1998, NATO established a set of general guidelines that 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. By 2012, the Alliance had broadened this group, which meets to discuss issues such as counter-piracy and technology exchange, under the names "partners across the globe" or "global partners". Australia and New Zealand, both contact countries, are also members of the AUSCANNZUKUS strategic alliance, and similar regional or bilateral agreements between contact countries and NATO members also aid cooperation. NATO Secretary General
Jens Stoltenberg Jens Stoltenberg (born 16 March 1959) is a Norwegian politician who has served as the 13th Secretary General of NATO since 2014. A member of the Labour Party, he previously served as Prime Minister of Norway from 2000 to 2001 and again from 2 ...

Jens Stoltenberg
stated that NATO needs to "address the rise of China," by closely cooperating with Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Foreign relations of NATO#Colombia, Colombia is the NATO's latest partner and Colombia has access to the full range of cooperative activities NATO offers to partners; Colombia became the first and only Latin American country to cooperate with NATO.


Structure

All agencies and organizations of NATO are integrated into either the civilian administrative or military executive roles. For the most part they perform roles and functions that directly or indirectly support the security role of the alliance as a whole. The civilian structure includes: * The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the body which has effective governance authority and powers of decision in NATO, consisting of member states' permanent representatives or representatives at higher level (ministers of foreign affairs or defence, or heads of state or government). The NAC convenes at least once a week and takes major decisions regarding NATO's policies. The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO, Secretary General and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon by consensus. 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. * NATO Headquarters, located on Boulevard Léopold III/Leopold III-laan, B-1110 Brussels, which is in the Brussels (municipality), City of Brussels municipality. 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 Treaty Association movement. The military structure includes: * The NATO Military Committee, Military Committee (MC) is the body of NATO that is composed of Member states of NATO, member states' Chief of Defence, Chiefs of Defence (CHOD) and advises the North Atlantic Council (NAC) on military policy and strategy. The national CHODs are regularly represented in the MC by their permanent Military Representatives (MilRep), who often are two- or three-star flag officers. Like the council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chief of defence, Chiefs of Defence, the most senior military officer in each nation's armed forces. The MC is led by its Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, chairman, who directs NATO's military operations. Until 2008 the Military Committee excluded France, due to that country's 1966 decision to remove itself from the
NATO Military Command Structure The Structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alli ...
, 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 * Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Allied Command Operations (ACO) is the NATO command responsible for NATO operations worldwide. ** The Rapid Deployable Corps include Eurocorps, I. German/Dutch Corps, Multinational Corps Northeast, and NATO Rapid Deployable Italian Corps among others, as well as naval High Readiness Forces (HRFs), which all report to Allied Command Operations. * Allied Command Transformation (ACT), responsible for transformation and training of NATO forces. The organizations and agencies of NATO include: * Headquarters for the NATO Support Agency will be in Capellen Luxembourg (site of the current NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency – NAMSA). * The NATO Communications and Information Agency Headquarters will be in Brussels, as will the very small staff which will design the new NATO Procurement Agency. * A new NATO Science and Technology Organization will be created before July 2012, consisting of Chief Scientist, a Programme Office for Collaborative S&T, and the NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC). * The current NATO Standardization Agency will continue and be subject to review by Spring 2014. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) is a body that sets broad strategic goals for NATO, which meets at two session per year. NATO PA interacts directly with the parliamentary structures of the national governments of the member states which appoint Permanent Members, or ambassadors to NATO. The NATO Parliamentary Assembly 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.


Legal authority of NATO Commanders

NATO is an alliance of 30 sovereign nations but their individual sovereignty is unaffected by participation in the alliance. NATO has no parliaments, no laws, no enforcement, and no power to punish individual citizens. As a consequence of this lack of sovereignty the power and authority of a NATO Commander are limited. NATO Commanders cannot punish offences such as: failure to obey a lawful order; dereliction of duty; or disrespect to a senior officer. NATO Commanders expect obeisance but sometimes need to subordinate their desires or plans to the operators who are themselves subject to sovereign codes of conduct like the UCMJ. A case in point was the clash between General Mike Jackson (British Army officer), Sir Mike Jackson and General Wesley Clark over KFOR actions at Pristina Airport. The NATO Commander can issues orders to his subordinate Commanders in the form of Operational Plans (OPLANs), Operational Orders (OPORDERs), tactical direction, or Fragmental Orders (FRAGOs) and others. The joint Rules of Engagement must be followed, and the Law of Armed Conflict must be obeyed at all times. Operational resources "remain under national command but have been transferred temporarily to NATO. Although these national units, through the formal process of transfer of authority, have been placed under the operational command and control of a NATO Commander, they never lose their national character." Senior national representatives, like Chief of the Defence Staff (disambiguation), CDS, "are designated as so-called red-cardholders". Caveats are restrictions listed "nation by nation... that NATO Commanders... must take into account."


See also

* Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union ** History of the Common Security and Defence Policy * Ranks and insignia of NATO


Similar organizations

* ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty) * Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) * Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) * Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) * Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance * Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) * Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) * South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone * Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO)


Citations


General bibliography

* * Auerswald, David P., and Stephen M. Saideman, eds. ''NATO in Afghanistan: Fighting Together, Fighting Alone'' (Princeton U.P., 2014) * * * * * * * * * Kaplan, Lawrence S. (2013). ''NATO before the Korean War: April 1949 – June 1950.'' Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. * * * * * * * Sayle, Timothy Andrews. ''Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order'' (Cornell UP, 2019
online review
* * * *


Further reading

* * Axelrod, Robert, and Silvia Borzutzky. "NATO and the war on terror: The organizational challenges of the post 9/11 world." ''Review of International Organizations'' 1.3 (2006): 293–307
online
* Borawski, John, and Thomas-Durell Young. ''NATO after 2000: the future of the Euro-Atlantic Alliance'' (Greenwood, 2001). * * Hendrickson, Ryan C. "NATO's next secretary general: Rasmussen's leadership legacy for Jens Stoltenberg." ''Journal of Transatlantic Studies'' (2016) 15#3 pp 237–251. * * Sayle, Timothy Andrews. ''Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order'' (Cornell University Press, 2019
online review
* “NATO at 70: Balancing Collective Defense and Collective Security,” Special issue of ''Journal of Transatlantic Studies'' 17#2 (June 2019) pp: 135–267. * NATO Office of Information and Press, NATO Handbook : Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, NATO, Brussels, 1998–99, Second Reprint,


External links

* * * * * *
Timeline: Nato – A brief look at some of the key dates in the organisation's history
by ''The Guardian''s Simon Jeffery on 11 February 2003 {{DEFAULTSORT:Nato NATO, 1949 establishments in Washington, D.C. 1949 in military history 20th-century military alliances 21st-century military alliances Anti-communist organizations Cold War alliances and military strategy Cold War organizations Cold War treaties Foreign relations of the Soviet Union International military organizations Military alliances involving Belgium Military alliances involving Bulgaria Military alliances involving Canada Military alliances involving Estonia Military alliances involving France Military alliances involving Greece Military alliances involving Hungary Military alliances involving Italy Military alliances involving Latvia Military alliances involving Lithuania Military alliances involving Luxembourg Military alliances involving Poland Military alliances involving Portugal Military alliances involving Romania Military alliances involving Spain Military alliances involving the Netherlands Military alliances involving the United Kingdom Military alliances involving the United States Military alliances involving Turkey Military units and formations established in 1949 Organisations based in Brussels Supraorganizations