In 1949, after years of continuous warfare across Europe, the Allies identified the need for a more robust and structured military command. It was to be a combination of militaries and headquarters from across the Allied armies. Its focus was to retain peace across Europe. After two World Wars, its need was paramount to the future of the Eurasian continent.
NATO has helped the European countries reach accords and work in a unified manner towards common interests over the years. It has also limited the power of any one country to negatively affect the region, as they would have to contest with the unified militaries of the other partners. As a crisis management organization, NATO has the ability to provide military support, humanitarian support or security assistance throughout the world.
With its focus changing over the years, NATO has performed its tasks through major conflicts. Beginning with the Cold War, NATO focused its energy against the perceived threat of a Russian invasion into Europe. From 1990 – 1991 it performed operation Anchor Guard to provide early warning aircraft to Turkey during the first Gulf War with Iraq. Operation Ace Guard followed in 1991, which provided air defense packages to Turkey. International relief, medical advisors and experts were sent to support Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1992. Operation Agile Genie took place as NATO provided AWACS overflights of Libya in response to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in Scotland.
NATO entered the Balkans to provide support and humanitarian aid in Kosovo in 1999, and after Kosovo declared independence in 2008, agreed to leave a security force presence to assist in the creation of a local security force. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan was under NATO control from August 2003 – December 2014. NATO has also provided anti-piracy support off the African coast.
NATO combines the capabilities and diverse backgrounds of many of the world’s leading militaries to support security and humanitarian activities throughout the world. While arguments about the financial contribution and obligations by partner countries towards NATO are relevant, and should take place, the relevancy of NATO is not in question.
NATO continues to be a geo-political instrument that unifies military goals between the United States and Europe. Beyond the massive undertaking that NATO has performed in standardizing weapons, manuals, training, mobilization plans, offensive and defensive capabilities, they also provide additional benefits. Ten NATO countries provide strategic air lift capabilities, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense force, and joint maritime forces.
The last few years proposed drastic changes throughout the European landscape. With the growth and now potential breakup of the EU, the concept of a more euro-centric coalition has taken on new discussion. Talks of an EU army, separate from NATO, have become more vocal after the recent Brexit vote.
Looking ahead, it is unlikely that the EU will pay for a unified military able to respond around the world for security missions or humanitarian aid. NATO is therefore still both relevant and an important capability as we move forward.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.