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History of NATO’s Land Power

Issue 48

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 04 April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party. The Korean War 1950-1953 galvanized the member states and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two Allied Supreme Commanders. With the benefit of aid and a security umbrella, political stability was gradually restored to Western Europe and the post-war economic miracle began. New Allies joined NATO: Greece and Turkey in 1952, and West Germany in 1955. The Alliance’s expansion continued to the present day and the number of member nations has reached 28.

Among these members, only two countries, Turkey (Izmir) and Italy (Naples) have hosted NATO headquarters without interruption since 1953. The meaning of this is twofold. First, that NATO is fully aware of Turkey’s strategic importance. When we look at the map, we can see that Turkey was once the Soviet Union’s next door neighbour. Turkey’s geographical situation is unique in the world. It is surrounded by the Balkans, the Middle-East and the Caucasus. One of the world’s most important waterways runs through Turkey. Second, Turkey has always had a strong and efficient military. From a NATO perspective, Turkey has always been important. Given her neighbours and her geostrategic position, Turkey equally needs NATO.  Although the negotiations for the Garrison Support Agreement (GSA) have not been finalized, Turkish Army are going beyond their commitment for LANDCOM to reach its target of achieving Full Operational Capability (FOC), which is testimony to the Alliance’s solidarity.