U.S. Department of State
95/11/22 Fact Sheet: NATO
Bureau of Public Affairs

                                     Fact Sheet
                      The North Atlantic Treaty Organization 
NATO Today 
NATO remains the core of American engagement in Europe and at the heart 
of European security.  It is the member nations' most effective 
instrument for coordinating defense and arms control and maintaining 
stability throughout Europe.  The collapse of the Soviet Union, the 
dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the progress of European integration 
have not ended the need for NATO's essential commitment to safeguard the 
freedom and security of all its members by political and military means 
in accordance with UN principles.  The London Declaration on a 
Transformed North Atlantic Alliance, issued after the summit meeting of 
the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in July 1990, signaled the vitality of 
the alliance in adapting to security needs in a post-Cold War world.  At 
that meeting, NATO allies announced a fundamental review of strategy and 
invited the Soviet Union and the countries of Central Europe to 
establish regular diplomatic liaison and to develop a new partnership. 
The November 1991 Rome Declaration on Peace and Cooperation further 
underlined NATO's intention to redefine its objectives in light of 
changed circumstances.  The declaration took into account the broader 
challenges to alliance security interests, such as the proliferation of 
weapons of mass destruction, regional instability, and terrorism.  It 
outlined its future tasks in the context of a framework of interlocking 
and mutually reinforcing institutions, including the Conference on 
Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)_now the Organization for 
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Western European Union 
(WEU), the European Community (now the European Union), and the Council 
of Europe, working together to build a new European security system.  
The "New Strategic Concept" announced at the meeting stressed the 
alliance's mission in crisis management and mandated a more flexible 
force structure and reduced reliance on nuclear weapons. The Rome 
meeting also created the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) to 
develop an institutional relationship of consultation and cooperation on 
political and security issues between NATO and its former adversaries.  
This initiative culminated in the participation of Foreign Ministers and 
representatives from the 16 NATO countries, six Central European 
countries, and the three Baltic states at the inaugural meeting of the 
NACC in December 1991.  At the second NACC meeting in March 1992, the 
new independent states of the former Soviet Union became members, except 
Georgia, which was admitted the following month.  Albania joined the 
NACC in June 1992. 
NATO Foreign Ministers affirmed their readiness to support peacekeeping 
activities under the auspices of the CSCE on a case-by-case basis in 
June 1992.  The following month, the North Atlantic Council agreed on a 
NATO maritime operation in the Adriatic, in coordination with the WEU, 
to monitor compliance with the UN embargo against Serbia and Montenegro 
(upgraded to enforcement in November 1992 following UN Security Council 
resolutions to tighten economic sanctions).  On June 8, 1993, agreement 
was reached to place the NATO/WEU Adriatic task force under the 
operational command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. 
NATO began enforcing UN economic sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro and 
the arms embargo against former Yugoslav states (Operation Sharp Guard) 
on November 18, 1992.  Similarly, NATO has been enforcing a UN Security 
Council resolution banning military flights (the "No-Fly Zone") over 
Bosnia-Herzegovina since April 12, 1993. 
Following its August 1, 1995 declaration that direct threats or attacks 
on UN-designated "safe areas" would prompt a decisive response, NATO 
initiated an extensive two-week-long air and artillery campaign in the 
wake of an August 28 mortar attack on Sarajevo's central market which 
killed dozens of civilians.  Subsequent to September and October 
agreements on a Bosnian cease-fire and other measures, NATO is now 
completing preparations to implement the military aspects of a peace 
In June 1993, the U.S. proposed a NATO summit to discuss the Clinton 
initiative, which set an agenda for NATO's future work.  The initiative 
included strengthening cooperation among the allies, developing 
relations with the former Warsaw Pact states, improving NATO's links 
with other institutions, and addressing threats to security that arise 
from outside the North Atlantic Treaty area.  The January 1994 NATO 
summit endorsed several of the President's proposals that advance NATO's 
adaptation to the post-Cold War European security environment. 
The summit launched the Partnership for Peace (PfP), which expands and 
intensifies practical political and military cooperation between NATO 
and the former Soviet bloc, as well as some of Europe's traditionally 
neutral countries, and allows them to consult with NATO in the event of 
a direct threat to their security.  PfP does not extend NATO security 
As of December 1995, 27 countries have joined PfP:  Albania, Armenia, 
Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, 
Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, 
Lithuania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, 
Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkmenistan, 
Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.  The central organs of the Partnership are the 
Steering Committee at NATO Headquarters and a planning organ, the 
Partnership Coordination Cell, at Mons, Belgium (at the same location as 
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe).   
PfP has thus become a permanent and central feature of the transatlantic 
security system. PfP military exercises began in fall 1994:  Poland 
hosted the first PfP field exercise in a former communist state, and a 
PfP maritime exercise took place in the North Sea. The Netherlands 
hosted a PfP field exercise in late October 1994.  NATO held 10 major 
PfP exercises in 1995, including a peacekeeping training exercise at Ft. 
Polk, Louisiana involving forces from 14 partner and three allied 
At the January 1994 summit, NATO leaders welcomed an evolutionary 
expansion of NATO membership to include new democracies in the region.  
Participation in PfP does not guarantee entry into NATO, but it is the 
best preparation for states interested in becoming NATO members.  For 
those countries that do not aspire to NATO membership, PfP will remain 
as a primary link to the alliance. 
The summit also endorsed a concept of "Combined Joint Task Forces" 
designed to make NATO military structures more flexible and to encourage 
the development of "separable but not separate" European military 
capabilities that could undertake operations under the auspices of the 
WEU when an alliance response was not required.  NATO and the WEU are 
working to develop this concept. 
Finally, the summit directed immediate work to intensify and expand 
NATO's political and defense efforts against the spread of weapons of 
mass destruction.  This led to agreement on a political framework for 
NATO actions which was approved at the North Atlantic Council 
ministerial meeting in June 1994.  Consultations proceed on specific 
allied political and defense steps to combat and defend against the 
proliferation of such weapons.  
Following on the summit's commitment to NATO expansion, the foreign 
ministers established a process in December 1994 to study NATO 
enlargement and to brief PfP partners on the conclusions of the study.  
NATO completed this study and presented its conclusions to interested 
partners in fall 1995. Allies plan to review the results of the study 
and discuss next steps at the December 1995 NAC. NATO's role as a forum 
for political consultation and an association of nations committed to 
collective defense remains unchanged, even as its new responsibilities 
in the areas of peacekeeping and crisis management continue to evolve. 
U.S.-NATO Relations:  The Transatlantic Partnership 
The decision of the United States after World War II to participate in a 
regional peacetime, defensive alliance represented a fundamental change 
in American foreign policy.  The United States recognized that its 
interests no longer could be confined to the limits of the Western 
Hemisphere:  U.S. security was linked inextricably to the future of the 
West European democracies. Concepts of individual liberty and the rule 
of law, coupled with those of a common heritage and shared values, 
provided the foundation for the NATO alliance.  These ideals, as well as 
the ongoing goal of each member country to achieve a just and lasting 
peaceful order in Europe, continue to link the fate of America to that 
of its NATO allies. 
The history of U.S. engagement in NATO has been one of commitment by 
America and its allies to reduce tensions in Europe and to improve East-
West relations.  They have pursued a series of initiatives designed to 
lower levels of personnel and equipment and increase mutual confidence, 
while adhering to a policy of political cohesion and military strength.  
Arms control measures aimed at enhancing stability have included the 
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 1987 and the Treaty on 
Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) in 1990. 
The CFE Treaty between the allies and the nations and successor states 
of the former Warsaw Pact provides for an unprecedented level of 
transparency in the security field through an information exchange and 
obligatory inspections.  Most importantly, it mandates a sharp reduction 
in conventional weapons throughout Europe.  The NATO allies coordinate 
closely to meet their own obligations under the treaty and to ensure 
full compliance in its information, verification, and reduction 
NATO also has played a leading role in developing far-reaching proposals 
for OSCE's Forum for Security Cooperation (FSC).   
The United States supports the development of a greater European 
security identity and defense role as a means of strengthening the 
integrity and effectiveness of NATO.  At the NATO summit in Rome, the 
alliance welcomed the prospect of a European political union with a 
greater security and defense dimension but underlined that this would 
not diminish the need for NATO.  The alliance's "New Strategic Concept" 
also reaffirmed the essential nature of the transatlantic partnership, 
recognizing as a basic principle the indivisibility of security of all 
its members.  The U.S. proposed, and the January 1994 NATO summit 
agreed, that "separable but not separate" European capabilities be made 
available to undertake independent European missions, drawing as 
necessary on NATO collective assets when NATO-wide actions are not 
The North Atlantic alliance and the American presence in Europe have 
helped keep peace for more than 40 years.  Having helped to forge 
successful policies toward the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact 
since the foundation of NATO, the U.S. with its European allies must 
play a central role in building the framework of the new Euro-Atlantic 
NATO Strategy 
NATO collective security strategy was mainly based on the principle of 
deterrence.  Defense capabilities were created to deter military 
aggression or other forms of pressure.  Parties to the treaty agreed to 
consult whenever the territorial integrity, political independence, or 
security of any party was threatened.  They further pledged to maintain 
their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack and, 
should such deterrence fail, to defend the territory of  the alliance.  
As a purely defensive alliance, NATO maintained only a level of military 
strength sufficient to be credible.  Given the marked inferiority of 
allied conventional strength in Europe, the NATO guarantee rested 
primarily on the nuclear superiority of the United States. 
At the conclusion of a 1967 comprehensive review of NATO strategy, the 
alliance adopted a revised approach to the common defense, based on a 
balanced range of responses, conventional and nuclear, to all levels of 
aggression or threats of aggression. This reassessment of the nature of 
the potential threat to member countries prompted the realization that 
the alliance must increasingly look to the dangers of more limited forms 
of aggression beyond the possibility of a massive Soviet attack.  The 
basis of the new concept of "flexible response" was the belief that NATO 
should be able to deter and counter military force with a range of 
responses designed to defend directly against attack at an appropriate 
level, or, if necessary, to escalate the attack to the level necessary 
to persuade an aggressor to desist. 
At the same time, the alliance accepted the recommendations of the 
report written by former Belgium Foreign Minister Pierre Harmel and 
titled "Future Tasks of the Alliance," which outlined the need to work 
toward the achievement of disarmament and balanced force reductions.  
The maintenance of adequate military forces would be coupled with 
efforts at improving East-West relations. 
Soviet deployment of new mobile theater nuclear missiles (SS-20s) called 
into question the accepted NATO strategy of deterrence based on the 
concepts of forward defense and flexible response and lead to a decision 
in 1979 to modernize its defensive capability.  The resulting "dual-
track" decision by the alliance combined pursuing arms control 
negotiations with responding appropriately to the increased imbalance 
created by the new Soviet systems.  Alliance governments agreed to 
deploy U.S. ground-launched cruise missiles in Western Europe. 
The successful conclusion of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) 
Treaty in 1987, while eliminating all Soviet and U.S. land-based, 
intermediate-range missiles, required a new appraisal of NATO policy.  
In response, the alliance developed its "Comprehensive Concept of Arms 
Control and Disarmament," which provided a framework for alliance policy 
in nuclear, conventional, and chemical fields of arms control and tied 
defense policies to progress in arms control. 
In July 1990, the NAC issued the "London Declaration on a Transformed 
North Atlantic Alliance" to adapt to the new realities in Europe.  The 
ministers pledged to intensify political and military contacts with 
Moscow and with Central and East European capitals and to work not only 
for the common defense but to build new partnerships with all the 
nations of Europe.  They underlined the need to undertake broader arms 
control and confidence-building agreements to limit conventional armed 
forces in Europe.  In recognition of the radical political changes in 
Europe and the improved security environment, the ministers mandated a 
fundamental review of the alliance's political and military strategy. 
The "New Strategic Concept" was outlined at the meeting of the North 
Atlantic Council in November 1991. The threat of a massive full-scale 
Soviet attack, which had provided the focus of NATO's strategy during 
the Cold War, had disappeared after the end of the political division of 
Europe. The alliance acknowledged that the risks to its security, such 
as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and acts of terrorism 
and sabotage, were now less predictable and beyond the focus of 
traditional concerns.  The new strategy adopts a broader approach to 
security, centered more on crisis management and conflict prevention.  
It assumes completion of the planned withdrawal of military forces from 
Central Europe and the Baltics and the full implementation of arms 
control agreements limiting conventional forces in Europe. 
In the context of changed circumstances, the alliance will maintain a 
mix of nuclear and conventional forces based in Europe, although at 
significantly lower levels.  To ensure effectiveness, alliance forces 
will be increasingly mobile to respond to a range of contingencies.  
Forces will be organized for flexible buildup to react to regional 
instability and crises.  Collective defense arrangements will rely 
increasingly on multinational forces within the integrated military 
structure.  Nuclear forces will continue to play an essential role in 
allied strategy but will be maintained at the minimum level sufficient 
to preserve stability. 
The new strategy reaffirms the principle of common commitment and mutual 
cooperation in support of the indivisibility of security for all 
alliance members and underscores the essential political and military 
link between European and North American members provided by the 
presence of nuclear forces in Europe.   
NATO Background 
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed against the backdrop 
of emerging post-war tensions engendered by the threat of Soviet 
expansionism and concern over political and economic instability in 
Western Europe.  On April 4, 1949, in Washington, DC, the Foreign 
Ministers of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, 
Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, and United 
States signed the North Atlantic Treaty, the political framework for an 
international alliance designed to prevent aggression, or, if necessary, 
to resist attack against any alliance member.  In 1952, Greece and 
Turkey acceded to the treaty, followed by the Federal Republic of 
Germany in 1955 and by Spain in 1982. 
This alliance of sovereign states pledges, through a combination of 
political solidarity and military force, to preserve its mutual 
security.  Reaffirming faith in the principles of individual and 
collective self-defense embodied in the UN Charter, the parties to the 
treaty pledge to defend the common heritage and civilization of their 
peoples and to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic 
area.  While recognizing the need to maintain adequate military strength 
to safeguard the security of its members, the alliance also resolves to 
work toward the establishment of a just and lasting peaceful order in 
NATO Structure 
North Atlantic Council 
The NAC is the principal forum for consultation and cooperation between 
NATO member governments on all issues affecting their common security.  
Its decisions are based on consensus, with each member having an equal 
right to express its views.  The NATO Secretary General is chair.  The 
NAC meets at least twice a year in ministerial session.   It also meets 
weekly at the level of Permanent Representatives, who hold ambassadorial 
Defense Planning Committee (DPC) 
The DPC deals with overall issues of defense and is composed of 
representatives of all countries except France (which withdrew from 
NATO's integrated military structure in 1966).  Like the NAC, it meets 
regularly at ambassadorial level and twice yearly, when member countries 
are represented by their defense ministers. 
Nuclear Planning Group 
This group has authority for nuclear matters.  All countries except 
France participate.  Iceland participates as an observer. 
Military Committee 
The highest military authority in the alliance; is composed of the 
chiefs of staff of each country except France, which is represented by a 
military mission. Iceland, which has no military forces, is represented 
by a civilian member.  The Military Committee advises the NAC and the 
DPC on military measures necessary for the common defense and provides 
guidance to the NATO commanders. 
Regional Commands 
The strategic area covered by the North Atlantic Treaty is divided into 
two regional commands:  Allied Command Europe and Allied Command 
Atlantic, with a regional planning group for North America.  With the 
exception of France and Iceland, all countries assign forces to the 
integrated military command structure.  The NATO Defense area covers the 
territories of member nations in North America, in the Atlantic area 
north of the Tropic of Cancer, and in Europe, including Turkey.  
However, events occurring outside the area which affect the preservation 
of peace and security in the treaty area also may be considered by the 
North Atlantic Cooperation Council 
The North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) was established in 
November 1991 to conduct NATO's outreach program to the former Warsaw 
Pact states.  Current members include the 16 NATO allies, seven Central 
European states (Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, 
Romania, and Slovakia), the 12 former Soviet republics, and the three 
Baltic states.  It meets in ministerial session at least once a year.  
Finland, Slovenia, and Sweden attend as observers.

November 22, 1995