Background and History
The North Atlantic Treaty organization, NATO was found in 1949 with its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. It has a membership of 28 countries with English and French as the official language. Also called the North Atlantic Alliance, it constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member’s states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. Prior to the Korean War, NATO was more or less a political association. The Korean War however galvanized the member states into activities leading to an integrated military structural build-up under the direction of the two US Supreme Commanders. The first NATO secretary general, Lord is may famously, even if lyrically, put the goals of the organization this way “to keep the Russian out, keep the Americans in and keep the Germans down”8

With the Korean campaign, doubts over the credibility and capacity of Europe and America to present a viable defense wall against soviet invasion somehow ebbed. It was his doubt that had led to French withdrawal form NATO’s military structure in 1966 and the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent.
After the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, NATO became drawn into the Balkans and began building security links with former enemies to the east leading to several former Warsaw pact states joining the alliance in 1999 and 2004. In 2009, Albania and Croatia were admitted bringing the membership to 28. since the terrorist attack on the US on September 11, 2001, NATO has attempted to refocus itself to new challenges and has deployed troops to Afghanistan and trainers of Iraq.
In 2002, NATO and the EU signed the Berlin plus Agreement. The agreement being a comprehensive package in which the EU allowed NATO to use its assets whenever it wanted to act independently in an international crisis. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world’s defense expenditure. The US alone accounts for 43% of the total military spending of the world while the UK French, Germany and Italy account for 15%.
The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington DC. The parties to the treaty agreed that an armed attack against one or more of the members, either in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. If such an attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right to individual self defense will assist the party or parties being attacked individually and in concert with other parties shall take all such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic Region. The NATO Article further limits the Organization scope to Europe and North America. This explains why NATO did not get involved in the Falklands war.
 The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures and technology which in many cases meant that European countries had to adopt several US practices.

 NATO and the Cold War:
NATO was by all intents and purposes, a product of the cold war. The strained relationship between the east and the west immediately after the end of World War II was primarily responsible for the creation of the NATO military alliance. The out break of the Korean War in 1950 was a crucial test case for NATO. It raised the apparent threat level to a remarkable degree. As  a result, the Alliance was forced to develop concrete military plans based on the presumed notion that all communist countries were working together. By 1952, NATO has expanded its capacity to over 35 divisions with about 15 ready divisions in central Europe and another 10 in Italy and Scandinavia. The divisions were heavily supported with a ready use of nuclear weapons. In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested it should join NATO to preserve peace Europe but the NATO countries refused fearing that he Soviet motive was to weaken the Alliance. The incorporation of western Germany into the Alliance in 1955 was a boost to NATO because without German manpower it would be impossible to field enough conventional forces to resist soviet invasion. The Soviet Union responded to this development with a formation of the Warsaw pact in the same year, he Warsaw alliance comprised Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and East Germany. With the formation of the Warsaw pact, the stage was finally set for a clear delineation of the two camps in the cold war.
            On 30th May, 1978 NATO countries further defined to complementary aims of the Alliance. These were to maintain security and to pursue d├ętente. This was supported to mean matching defenses at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw pacts’ offensive capacity without spurring for their arms capabilities in Europe, NATO approved the deployment of US GLCM cruise missiles Pershing II threatre nuclear weapons in Europe. These new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position on nuclear disarmament. Under the Reagan presidency and the build up of tension between the Soviet Union and the US, NATO again approved the deployment of cruise missiles in Western Europe particularly West Germany. These missiles were threatre nuclear weapons intended to strike targets on battlefields should the Russians invade West Germany.
            In 1983, NATO maneuvers, simulating a nuclear launch caused panic in Moscow. The soviet leadership under General Secretary, Yuri Andropove, became alarmed that the maneuvers were indeed an impending genuine first strike. Soviet nuclear forces were readied and air units in East Germany and Poland were placed on alert. Though soviet reaction at the time was written by US intelligence as propaganda, many historians now believe that Soviet fear of NATO first strike was indeed genuine. In September 1983, the Soviet Air force short down a airspace. This incident once again raised situation levels and rhetorics at both ends, a situation that remained in place till later accords between Ronald Reagan and Michail Gorbacher who succeeded Androprov as secretary General in 1985.

NATO and the post cold war era
The end of the cold war and the dissolution of the Warsaw pact in 1991 removed NATO’s greatest adversary from the scene. This caused a prompt strategic re-evaluation of purposes, tasks and the general nature of NATO. This situation led to a new expansion of NATO into part of eastern Europe and areas it did not concern itself with previously.
            The first post cold war expansion of NATO came with German unification in 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the federal republic of Germany. The soviet Union accepted the new arrangement of a united Germany on the condition that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed on the territory of the East. It was further agreed during the unification negotiation that NATO been a controversy over whether there was really such an agreement or it was mere perception. This has become a controversial issue of sorts.
            On May 7, 2008, Gorbacher granted an interview to the Daily Telegraph, where he talked about some of the knotty issues of that period, according to him,
…The Americans promised that NATO would not move beyond the boundaries of Germany after the cold war but now half of central and eastern Europe are members. So, what happened to their promises…13
There have been demands for the UN to approve NATO military action but the US and UK have vigorously opposed this more arguing that Russian and Chinese veto in the UN security councilwould severely in capacitate NATO operations in such a situation and there the potency and purpose of the organisation would be mollified.

NATO after 9/11 the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the US caused NATO to involve its collective security defense moviesion (Article 5) for the first time in its history. 

            For some years the US have
As part of post cold war restructuring NATO’s military structure was cut back and re-organized with new forces such as the creation of the headquarters Allied command Europe rapid reaction corp. in 1995, France rejoined NATO’s military committee and the return to full membership in April 2009 under the presidency of Nikolai Sarkozy. France however continued to maintain an independent nuclear deterrent.

NATO intervention in the Balkans14 
NATO’s first military operation was caused by the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. In operation sharp guard, NATO provided maritime enforcement of the arms embargo and economic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first military action shooting down four Bosnian serb air crafts violating a UN mandated no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzagovina. A NATO banking campaign, operation Deliberate Force bagan in august 1995 against the Army of the republika srpska after the Srebrenica massacre. Natto airtimes from 1993-1995 helped bring the NATO war to an end resulting in the Dayton Agreement under which NATO was authorised to deploy a peace keeping force which random December, 1996-December, 2004. In 1999, three former communism countries Hungary, Czechoslovalkia and Poland formally joined NATO. In 1998, NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council was established. In 1999, NATO carried out its first broad-scale military engagement in the Kosowo War. It waged an eleven week bombing campaign against what was then the Federal Republic of Yogoslavia in an efforts to stop the Servia-led massacre of Albanian civilians in Kosovo. There was no formal declaration of war as is common with all wars since 1939. the conflict ended in June 1999, when the Yugoslav leader slobadan Milosevic agreed to accept UN resolution 1244. in August –September 2001, NATO mounted operation Essential harvest aimed at disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia. Central Europe is expected to become fully operational by 2015 and would be capable of covering most of Europe except parts of Bulgaria, Greece and turkey.

            In April 2007. NATO’s European allies called for a NATO missile defence system which would complement the American national missile defence system to protect Europe form missile attacks. In response, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putting declared that such deployment could lead to a new armsrace and could enhance the likelihood of matual destruction. He further make it known that his country would freeze its compliance with the 1990 treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe (CFC). On July 14, 2007. Russia gave notice of its intention to suspend the CFE Treaty, effective 150 days later. On 14th august, 2008, the US and Poland reached an agreement to place a base to interceptor missiles with associated air defence system in Poland. Russia said that its response “would go beyond diplomacy” and on august 20th, sent word to Nor way that it was suspending ties with NATO.

            One September 17th, 2009, US president, Barak Obama announced that the planned deployment of longrange missile defence interceptors and equipment in Poland and the Czech Republic was not to go forward. He said that a defence against short and medium range missiles would be deployed instead. The reaction to the announcement was negative in central and Eastern Europe particularly Poland and the Czech Republic while Russian response was rather positive Russian President diametric Medyedev announced that a planned Russian Iskander surface to face missile deployment in the nearby Kaliningrad would no longer go on. NATO secretary General promptly issued a statement calling for a strategic partnership between Russia and the Alliance explicitly involving technological co-operation of the two parties missile defense systems.
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