Today marks the 70thAnniversary of NATO. NATO stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on April 4th, 1949.
Formed in 1949 to provide collective security against the threat posed by the Soviet Union, NATO was comprised of the following original members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
From its founding, NATO’s purpose was to unify and strengthen the Western Allies’ military response to a possible invasion of western Europe by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. The treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the member states, it shall be considered an attack against all members; other members shall assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.
All members have militaries, with the exception of Iceland; though it does not have a typical army, it does have a coast guard and a small unit of civilian specialists for NATO operations. Three of the members have nuclear weapons: France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
NATO now has a total of 29 members that meet to cooperate in security and defence. As a result, the North American and European members are provided with a link for political and security cooperation.
In addition, NATO has a third task consisting of activities in the area of civil emergency planning, helping Allies and partners to cope with disasters, and to promote cooperation in the field of science and the environment.
Together with the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee and the Supreme Allied Commander, the Secretary General is one of the foremost officials of NATO. Currently Jens Stoltenberg, the former Prime Minister of Norway, has this role.
The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (CMC) advises the North Atlantic Council (NAC) on military policy and strategy. He is the senior military spokesman of the alliance and principal advisor to the Secretary General. The current Chairman of the CMC is Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, former Chief of Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces; he took office in June 2018.
The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), is a US four-star general or admiral who also heads the US European Command. Since 2016 this has been General Curtis Scaparrotti (Army).
Recently, the North Atlantic Council has approved nomination of General Tod D. Wolters, United States Air Force, to the post of Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Upon completion of a national confirmation process, he will take up his appointment, expected in the spring of this year.