North Atlantic Treaty Organization
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a military alliance established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. The organization established a system of collective defence in which its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. The headquarters of NATO are in Brussels, Belgium.
While NATO had long anticipated a Soviet attack, the actual first invocation of the common defense article was in response to the 9/11 Attack. NATO supported the immediate attack on Afghanistan, but did not endorse the Iraq War; the refusal to do so offended American neoconservatives.
After WWII, both Germanies were demilitarized. Wiederbewaffnung was the political goal of West German rearmament and integration with NATO.
At the highest level, there is a Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, and four senior officers from the major military participants in the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE):
- Supreme Allied Commander Europe, an American four-star officer "dual-hatted" as commander of United States European Command, currently ADM James Stavridis
- Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, a British general or admiral who is warfighting leader in Europe, General Sir John McColl
- Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, a French general or admiral based in the U.S., currently GEN Stéphane Abrial
- SHAPE Chief of Staff, a German general or admiral, General Karl-Heinz Lather
Military planning and interoperability
One of the challenges is that military decisions now need to be made by consensus of the 26 members; member militaries also may need to clear orders from the NATO tactical commander with their home government.
There is a substantial military force in Afghanistan, including U.S. forces, although there are also independent U.S. forces there not under ISAF command.
- International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), commanded by GEN Stanley McChrystal, United States Army
- Kosovo Force (KFOR)