The NATO Portal

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) French: Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord (OTAN), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is a military alliance established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. The NATO headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, and the organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

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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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NATO Defense Ministers' Conference
Meeting of the NATO Defense Ministers held in Nice, France in 2005.

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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

General Wesley Clark official photograph.jpg

Wesley Kanne Clark, Sr., KBE (born December 23, 1944) is a retired general of the United States Army. Clark was valedictorian of his class at West Point, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of Oxford where he obtained a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, and later graduated from the Command and General Staff College with a master's degree in military science. He spent 34 years in the Army and the Department of Defense, receiving many military decorations, several honorary knighthoods, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Clark commanded Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo War during his term as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000.

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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