NATO Day: How was the global military organisation founded?

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New Delhi: Celebrated on April 4 every year, NATO Day commemorates the founding of NATO on that day in 1949. It is one of the most crucial organisations in the world enstrusted with the tasks of deterring and thwarting wars. It comes to the aid of its member states if attacked by any non-member nations and aims to maintain global peace.

What is the full form of NATO?

The full form of NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and it was established on April 4, 1949, with the implementation of the North Atlantic Treaty.

How was NATO founded?

On March 4, 1947, after World War II and before the beginning of the Cold War, France and the United Kingdom signed the Treaty of Dunkirk if the Soviet Union or Germany attacked them. In March 1948, it was expanded with the Treaty of Brussels to bring the Benelux countries into the fold which led to the formation of the Brussels Treaty Organization which was commonly called the Western Union.

At the same time, there were talks of a bigger military alliance including North America in the US. During that period, the US adopted a foreign policy under the Truman Doctrine which aimed to promote international unity against actions they perceived as communist aggression like the coup in Czechoslovakia in February 1948. This talks about the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on April 4, 1949, by members of the Western Union and the US, Canada, Italy, Portugal, Iceland, Norway and Denmark.

The treaty became active during the Korean War and NATO was established to implement it with an integrated military structure. In 1951, a Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) was formed which took military plans and structures of the Western Union. In 1952, the Secretary General of NATO post was created.

NATO was created mostly to keep the Soviet Union in check, but a change in the European political landscape in the 1990s and the dissolution of the Soviet changed the tasks of NATO. As Europe began to turn away from military spending, NATO waded into political and humanitarian situations that were formerly its concerns. Over the years, it has worked on strengthening its relations with European nations. Its main headquarters are in Brussels and its military headquarters are near Mons, both in Belgium. The combined militaries of all NATO members include around 3.5 million soldiers and personnel.

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