Washington D.C. – 4. April 1949
According to this, an attack against one of the Allies may be considered an attack against all and if such an armed attack takes place, each of the States shall assist the other State(s) in application of the right to individual or collective defence … the means used may be anything, including military, necessary to maintain or restore the security of the partners.
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.
The organization was founded after World War II and implements the North Atlantic Treaty signed on April 4, 1949.
Currently, NATO has 30 member states, including 2 from North America: USA, Canada.
List of Member States: NATO – Member countries
Germany has been a member since 8 May 1955.
The United States has been a member since August 24, 1949.
The NATO Command Structure
[Source of following paragraphs: NATO Fact Sheet, www.nato.int]
NATO’s Command Structure (NCS) is the backbone of NATO. It is composed of permanent multinational headquarters at the strategic, operational and component levels of command, distributed geographically and commonly funded.
It offers the opportunity to all Allies to participate in, and contribute to, the command and control of all Alliance operations, missions, and activities across all military domains.
At the end of the Cold War, NATO had 22,000 staff across 33 commands. Following the 2010 Lisbon Summit, NATO Allies reformed the NATO Command Structure to create a robust, agile, and efficient command system. These changes focused on ensuring that NATO forces remained fit for purpose and improved NATO’s ability to deploy forces on
operations, reflecting the security environment of that time. Today, NATO maintains personnel in 6,800 posts across seven commands.
The reforms also improved the NCS’s operability with the NATO Force Structure (NFS). The NFS is a distinct pool of Allied national and multinational forces and headquarters placed at the Alliance’s disposal on a permanent or temporary basis.
Current organization of the Command Structure
NATO’s Command Structure is under the authority of the Military Committee, NATO’s highest military authority composed of the Chiefs of Defence of all twenty-nine member countries.
The NCS consists of two strategic commands: Allied Command Operations (ACO) and Allied Command Transformation (ACT).
ACO, under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), is responsible for the planning and execution of all NATO military operations, as directed by the North Atlantic Council. ACO consists of a strategic-level headquarters, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) located in Mons (Belgium), along with two Joint Force Commands (JFC) in Naples (Italy) and Brunssum (the Netherlands), each of which is capable of deploying up to a major joint operation capable headquarters out of area. ACO is further organised into three major tactical-level commands for air, land, and sea operations, each with a dedicated headquarters.
ACT is at the forefront of NATO’s military transformation. It is under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), who exercises his responsibilities from headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia (USA).
ACT‘s main responsibilities include education, training and exercises, and promoting interoperability throughout the Alliance. ACT also helps maintain and strengthen the vital transatlantic link between Europe and North America and promotes the equitable sharing of roles, risks and responsibilities among Allies. ACT operates the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learnt Centre in Lisbon (Portugal), the Joint Force Training Centre in Bydgoszcz (Poland) and the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger (Norway).