North Atlantic Treaty Organization

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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):

Military planning and interoperability

Current deployments

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.


KFOR is the peace operations force in Kosovo, under the authority of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244.

Historic events