The NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed in 1949 after World War II. It is also called North Atlantic Alliance and is an intergovernmental military alliance. The current members are 30 in total, out of which 28 are European countries, and 2 are North American countries. It is a collective defense system in case of attack by an external nation. The NATO headquarters are located in Brussels, Belgium, and the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is located near Mons, Belgium.
Interesting Facts about NATO
NATO was established on 4th April 1949: – After World War II, in 1948, the UK, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium formed an alliance named Western European Union. However, as protection from the growing power of the Soviets, a more firm alliance was sought. This gave rise to NATO.
More joinees: – Soon, the other countries joined NATO, realizing the utility of the treaty. These countries were Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Portugal, Italy, The US, and Norway. This treaty was formed in Washington DC and named the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Total members as of today: – Today, there are 30 members in NATO. Eighteen more countries joined the original 12 countries: Czech Republic, Albania, Greece, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Lithuania, and Slovenia. The latest joinee was North Macedonia in 2020.
Intervention in Bosnia War: – Bosnia and Herzegovina were engulfed in armed activities between 1992-1995. This was the first action of NATO to depute its military force in 1995 to post airstrikes against Bosnian Serb strongholds, Sarajevo. A total of 60000 soldiers were posted on the front.
It has security partners in more than 40 countries: – Apart from the members in North America and Europe, NATO has a security network in a total of 40 countries. NATO’s security associates include the European Union, African Union, and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The France dispute: – After 1958, French President Charles de Gaulle felt the domination of the US over NATO’s management was not justifying, and as a result, France withdrew from NATO in 1966 on the basis of France-NATO sore relations. NATO personnel and headquarters were ejected from France, but the country still adheres to aspects of the treaty.
Article 10: – Article 10 of NATO states that the doors of NATO are always open for any European country, provided it follows the rules of membership. The North Atlantic Council is authorized to permit the joining of any country.
Two percent of GDP for defense: – In 2014, NAATO asked all members to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. However, only a few are doing so among the US and the UK. By 2024, NATO predicts 15 members might hit the 2 percent target.
No army member: – One of the members of NATO, Iceland, does not have a standing army. The country’s population is tiny, and insufficient funds may be the reason. Hence it maintains a militarized coast guard, peacekeeping forces, and air defense systems.
The first and only invoke of article 5: – After the terrorist attack of 9/11, NATO invoked the article 5 first and the only time by launching the military operations outside of the Auro-Atlantic area to investigate terrorist activities.
An attack on one will be an attack on all: – The agreement states that an attack on any one member will be treated as an attack on all members of NATO. This is to defend its member states and their citizens.
Defend the freedom: – The UK Armed Forces play a leading role in various NATO operations and exercises worldwide. The Exercise Trident Juncture in 2018 is one of the examples to check NATO’s capability in an article 5 scenario. NATO trains to defend all kinds of threats from any direction.
Decision-makers: – A NATO decision refers to the decision agreed by all the organization members. It will be a collective will of the members as all the decisions are made on a consensus basis.
NATO’s partial members: – Egypt, Jorden, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, and Mauritania are not full members of NATO. However, in 1994 a Mediterranean dialogue formed a relationship with NATO. They seek to participate in security and stability in the Mediterranean.
24*7 air vigilance: – Some members of NATO like Slovenia, Latvia, Luxembourg, Albania, Iceland, and Estonia don’t have their air capabilities. Hence they are provided the 42*7*365 days RAF air vigilance.
Together and stronger: – The NATO members collectively comprise at least 50 percent of the world’s total GDP and are capable of deputing over 3 million men and women for active service.
British dominance: – Lord Ismay was the first Secretary-General of NATO. In March 1952, he became both the Secretary-General of the Organization and as Vice-Chairman of the North Atlantic Council on April 4 in the same year.
Russia’s request: – In February 2022, before Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had requested NATO to stop expanding East (to countries like Ukraine, Moldova, or Georgia), but NATO refused the condition.
Partnership for peace: – An additional 20 countries participate in NATO’s ‘Partnership for Peace program with other 15 countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs.
Cold War: – NATO conducted no operations during the Cold War, but after the Cold War, the first operations were carried out, Anchor Guard in 1991 and Ace Guard in 1992. These were because of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Kosovo intervention: – After the ceasefire negotiations between US special envoy Richard Holbrooke and Yugoslavia failed, Operation Allied Force carried out a 78-day bombing operation on the capabilities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This is referred to as the Kosovo war.
Iraq training mission: – in 2004, owing to the request of the Interim Iraqi Government, NATO formed a NATO Training Mission – Iraq under the provision of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546. The aim was to help Iraqi security forces and institutions to build sustainable and effective capability.
Gulf of Aden: – Based on the approval by North Atlantic Council, the warships were deployed in the Gulf of Aden on 17th August 2009. This was to protect the maritime traffic from the Somali pirates, which helped navies and coastal guards strengthen their security.
Libya intervention: – As the violence between the Libyan Civil War protesters and government under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi increased, it made way for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which asked for a ceasefire. Operation Unified Protector was initiated to establish peace.
Integrated permanent command: – NATO has an integrated, permanent command structure in which civilian and military personnel from all member states work together. NATO holds the position of a top military officer.
Alliance strategy: – The alliance deterrence strategy currently is a combination of nuclear and conventional capabilities. They are working towards a more fitter, flexible, and faster-fighting force.
Learning all the above facts, one thought would come to our mind. What is the stand of NATO on the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia? Since Ukraine is not a NATO member, NATO cannot interfere directly, and it is only a ‘partner’ country that might join NATO in later stages.
NATO has not imposed a no-fly zone over Ukraine either, because then it will be the direct conflict with Russia which they don’t want as of now. However, Britain is sending weapons to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion, but they will need hundreds of millions of pounds to arm Ukraine.
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