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North Atlantic Treaty Organization Portal
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Introduction

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO /ˈnt/; French: Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord; OTAN), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 North American and European countries. The organization implements the North Atlantic Treaty that was signed on 4 April 1949. NATO constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s Headquarters are located in Haren, Brussels, Belgium, while the headquarters of Allied Command Operations is near Mons, Belgium.

Since its founding, the admission of new member states has increased the alliance from the original 12 countries to 29. The most recent member state to be added to NATO is Montenegro on 5 June 2017. NATO currently recognizes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia and Ukraine as aspiring members. An additional 21 countries participate in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, with 15 other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the global total. Members have committed to reach or maintain defense spending of at least 2% of GDP by 2024.

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Able Archer 83 was a ten-day NATO command post exercise starting on November 2, 1983 that spanned Western Europe, centred on SHAPE's Headquarters situated at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons. Able Archer exercises simulated a period of conflict escalation, culminating in a coordinated nuclear release. The 1983 exercise incorporated a new, unique format of coded communication, radio silences, participation by heads of state, and a simulated DEFCON 1 nuclear alert.

The realistic nature of the 1983 exercise, coupled with deteriorating relations between the United States and the Soviet Union and the anticipated arrival of Pershing II nuclear missiles in Europe, led some in the USSR to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse of war, obscuring preparations for a genuine nuclear first strike. This relatively obscure incident is considered by many historians to be the closest the world has come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 The threat of nuclear war abruptly ended with the conclusion of the Able Archer 83 exercise on November 11.

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A member of ISAF during NATO operations in Afghanistan

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Selected member military

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The armed forces of the United Kingdom, commonly known as the British Armed Forces or His/Her Majesty's Armed Forces, and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, encompasses a navy, an army, and an air force. With a reported personnel strength of 425,500 in 2006 (191,900 regular force, 191,300 regular reserve, and 42,300 volunteer reserve), the British Armed Forces constitutes one of the largest militaries in Europe, though only the 26th largest in the world by number of troops. The British Armed Forces however have the third highest declared expenditure of any military in the world. Their Commander-in-Chief is the British monarch, HM Queen Elizabeth II and they are managed by the Defence Council of the Ministry of Defence. Consistent with longstanding constitutional convention, however, the Prime Minister holds de facto authority over the armed forces.

The British Armed Forces are charged with protecting the United Kingdom and its overseas territories, promoting Britain's wider security interests, and supporting international peacekeeping efforts. They are active and regular participants in NATO and other coalition operations.

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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