NATO Definition

According to fun-wiki, NATO is an abbreviation for N orth A tlantic T reaty O rganization [English, = North Atlantic Treaty Organization], 1949 in Washington (DC) from Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and US defense alliance based in Brussels.

Against the background of the East-West conflict that began after 1945, the pact was intended to counterbalance the military presence of the Soviet Union in Europe, which was perceived as a threat. Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955 and Spain in 1982. After the end of the East-West conflict, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were added in 1999, followed by Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined the alliance in 2009, Montenegro in 2017. North Macedonia has been the 30th NATO member since 2020. France withdrew from joint military staffs from 1966–2009, Greece from 1974–81.

The highest body is the North Atlantic Council, to which government representatives from all member states belong. The General Secretary is the chairman . The highest military authority is the Military Committee, which is composed of the Chiefs of Staff of the member countries. The alliance area is divided into two command areas, Europe and Atlantic; in addition there is the regional planning group for Canada and the USA. With the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council founded in 1997, NATO seeks cooperation with the CIS, other former Eastern Bloc countries and other OSCE members who are not part of the Alliance.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington, on October 2, 2001, for the first time in its history, NATO declared an alliance case for the fight against international terrorism.


NATO during the Cold War

NATO was founded in 1949 under the influence of the expanding communist sphere of influence in Europe (1945-48). Against the backdrop of the Cold War, the alliance was intended to counter the perceived threat to the Soviet Union’s military presence as a counterbalance with the armed forces in Western Europe.

From the outset, NATO’s military concept was determined by the basic idea of ​​deterring the threat or use of violent military measures against the alliance and thus preventing war and – if an attack were to occur – the territorial integrity of the North Atlantic area as quickly as possible to be able to restore. In order to achieve credible deterrence, it was necessary to always demonstrate willingness and ability to defend itself. The concrete form of NATO’s military strategy was subject to various changes.

In the year NATO was founded, there were 14 western and 200 Soviet divisions in continental Europe. Because of the conventional inferiority that this gave, the Western European states were dependent on the USA. As a strategic consequence of this situation, the integrated defense of the North Atlantic area, decided on December 1, 1949, arose. After the outbreak of the Korean War, it was agreed in September 1950 to introduce a forward strategy for Europe, which should repel an attacker as far to the east as possible. The strategy of massive retaliation formulated by the US armed forces in 1954, the core content of which was to respond to every enemy attack with a devastating blow, was also adopted by NATO. It developed this concept further in the so-called “sword-shield doctrine” adopted in 1957 and thus replaced the forward strategy. The new doctrine stipulated that conventional armed forces should act as “shield forces” to repel limited attacks, and that nuclear “sword forces” should be used in large-scale aggression. However, this strategy could only be regarded as a war-preventive as long as Soviet nuclear weapons could not reach the United States. However, this changed in the first half of the 1960s.

As a consequence of the changed situation, NATO approved the strategy of flexible response in 1968. Against the background of the impending nuclear stalemate, in contrast to massive retaliation, it did not provide for any nuclear automatism. Instead, any type of aggression should be responded to appropriately and flexibly. The three possible types of reaction were developed as instruments for this: “direct defense” (defense at the level of the military conflict chosen by the enemy), “premeditated escalation” (calculated use of nuclear weapons or spatial expansion of the conflict) and “general nuclear reaction” (extreme reaction with the use of the full military potential). In order to be able to react appropriately to every form of aggression, NATO needed a potential of forces which comprised conventional armed forces, short- and medium-range nuclear systems, and intercontinental strategic nuclear weapons. This alliance of forces, known as the »NATO triad«, was supposed to create a seamless spectrum of reaction and escalation options.

Since the end of the 1960s, the basis of the alliance’s security policy has been the overall political strategy formulated in the Harmel Report (1967): On the basis of a military and political balance between the blocs, dialogue and cooperation in all areas would create a more stable relationship between the states in East and West Germany Strive for West.

NATO Definition