“Our strength and capabilities are inherently based on forming, sustaining, equipping, and training an adaptive force in which the only constant in the geopolitical terrain is change.”
(General Philip Breedlove, Commander SACEUR)
The international community today is constantly under threat from terrorist agendas, and economic challenges that affect and endanger entire populations. As individual countries struggle to find solutions, often more success is seen through formation of alliances. The most successful of these alliances utilize analyses from diverse perspectives and combine resources to accelerate processes of change for desired outcomes. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, (NATO) has been one such force of positive change throughout its 65 year history, and proved itself to be the most durable alliance in history.
Signed into existence in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 1949, with 12 members, today this robust 28-member alliance is a model of cooperation and strength. Achieving substantial success in its missions over the years, NATO has actively worked with member states and partnered with 41 countries and individual stockholders from across the globe, impacting strategic decisions and providing informed global perspectives.
The first Secretary General of NATO, Lord Ismay, had famously stated – what would appear very short-sighted and naïve now – that the organization's goal was, "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." Needless to say, perspectives on partnerships and priorities have changed significantly since then, and adapted to shifting geopolitical realities. NATO has formed strong bonds with Russia through NATO-Russia Council (NRC) since 2002 and worked on many fronts together. As Gen Breedlove recently observed in the Turkish Policy Quarterly, 2014: “While NATO has different views with Russia in certain areas such as missile defense, there are many other areas in which we are working together in order to achieve the goals set out at the NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon in 2010.” Areas of cooperation include counter-narcotics and piracy, scientific and technical fields, civil emergency response, nuclear weapons issues, crisis management etc. Since 2008, Russia has also provided land transit routes to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan across Russian territory.
Taking up the cause of women and children suffering the repercussions of living in current or previously active war zones, NATO also actively supports the UN to implement its Women, Peace and Security agenda outlined in the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. This and other similar UN resolutions, “… call for full and equal participation of women at all levels in issues ranging from early conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction, peace and security.” (UN sources)
Over the years, NATO has evolved into a vibrant organization, focused on resolving conflict and supporting the cause of peace, drawing ever more strength from adapting to changing times. NATO has been actively involved in supporting the cause of peace in countries around the world. After the collapse of the Soviet Union which heralded the end of the Cold War, the focus on active crises brought NATO into Bosnia in the 1994 Bosnian war; then into Afghanistan as part of the security and training force working with the Afghan Government starting 2003 to date, and into Iraq for technical assistance and training from operational phase starting 2004 to 2011, to a sustaining role during 2012 and 2013. Since 2008, NATO has also successfully conducted counter-piracy operations around the Horn of Africa to protect the busy sea route, especially for international humanitarian vessels, including those of the UN World Food Program (WFP). NATO also participated in the 2011 air campaign in Libya to implement the UN Resolution, UNSCR 1973.
Of all the missions, however, NATO’s involvement in Afghanistan remains its longest and perhaps toughest combat commitment to date...
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