Portal:NATO

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The NATO Portal

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) French: Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord (OTAN), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is a military alliance established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. The NATO headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, and the organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

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Gladio (Italian: sword) is a code name denoting the clandestine NATO "stay-behind" operation in Italy after World War II, intended to counter an eventual Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. Although Gladio specifically refers to the Italian branch of the NATO stay-behind organisations, "Operation Gladio" is used as an informal name for all stay-behind organisations, sometimes called "Super NATO".

Operating in many NATO and even some neutral countries, Gladio was first coordinated by the Clandestine Committee of the Western Union (CCWU), founded in 1948. After the creation of NATO in 1949, the CCWU was integrated into the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC), founded in 1951 and overseen by the SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), transferred to Belgium after France’s official withdrawal from NATO's Military Committee in 1966 — which was not followed by the dissolution of the French stay-behind paramilitary movements.

The role of the CIA in sponsoring Gladio and the extent of its activities during the Cold War era, and its relationship to terrorist attacks perpetrated in Italy during the Years of Lead and other similar clandestine operations is the subject of ongoing debate and investigation. Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have had parliamentary inquiries into the matter.

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NATO Defense Ministers' Conference
Meeting of the NATO Defense Ministers held in Nice, France in 2005.

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The Republic of Iceland, a NATO member, maintains no standing army. There is however no legal impediment to forming one. Iceland maintains a well trained Coast Guard, National Police forces, Air Defence system as well as a voluntary expeditionary peacekeeping force. These services perform many of the operations Iceland's NATO allies relegate to their standing armies. There is in addition, a treaty with the United States for military defenses and formerly maintained a military base, Naval Air Station Keflavik, in Iceland until September 2006, when U.S. Military Forces withdrew. This base is currently maintained by the newly formed "Icelandic Defence Agency". There are also agreements about military and other security operations with Norway, Denmark and other NATO countries.

NATO news

  • June 22: The Turkish government has agreed to allow NATO AWACS aircraft to operate from bases in Western Turkey providing better air traffic control and radar control over Afghanistan. Read more...
  • June 18: During a farewell visit to Afghanistan, outgoing NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced that the alliance would send an extra 8,000 to 10,000 troops to the country to provide additional security during August elections. Read mores...
  • June 14: A warship from the NATO naval force off Somalia freed 14 Indian sailors held hostage by pirates. Read more...

Selected biography

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Jakob Gijsbert "Jaap" de Hoop Scheffer (born 3 April 1948) is a Dutch politician and the current NATO Secretary General. Hoop served as the Dutch foreign minister, and was an important figure in the Dutch decision to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In 2004, Hoop was chosen as the 11th NATO Secretary General. Read more...

Quotes

  • The threats we face today are not unique to any of us – they are common across the globe, and none of our countries is immune to them. --Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
  • Our unique partnership was born in common philosophies of freedom and democracy. It was forged during half a century's fight against tyranny. Now it stands as a beacon of democracy, toleration, plurality, openness and candor in a world menaced by extremism and instability. --Lord Robertson

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