NATO, the largest military alliance in the world, explained
BRUSSELS (AP) — It seems odd to characterize the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as one huge shooting club, but the comparison may be helpful in understanding the world’s largest military alliance.
Like many shooting clubs, NATO actually has no weapons of its own. Battleships, warplanes, missiles and the potential pool of over 3 million people are owned and made available by the 28 member states, mostly at their own expense. The only military equipment NATO has is a fleet of early warning radar planes and, starting next year, five surveillance drones.
Here is an overview of how NATO works and why it matters:
WHAT IS THAT?
This club, with ITS main headquarters in Brussels and military HQ in Mons, Belgium, is open to any European nation that wishes to join and can meet the requirements and obligations. Montenegro is expected to join soon. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Macedonia are lining up.
The Soviet Union during the Cold War and Russia have been major concerns today since the organization was founded in 1949, and remain in many ways NATO’s raison d’être.
The United States is undoubtedly the most important and influential member. He spends more on his own military budget than all the others put together. It also contributes just over 22% of NATO’s common funding for infrastructure and collective equipment. Washington therefore has a say in how things are run.
Small allies aspire to train and work with US forces because it gives them access to equipment and expertise they cannot afford on their own.
But NATO decisions are made by consensus and there is no majority vote. This means that Albania, for example, has a right of veto just as definitive as that of Washington.
WHO IS IN CHARGE?
Meetings of the alliance — the North Atlantic Council, which meets almost weekly at ambassadorial level in Brussels, less often at ministerial or Heads of State and Government level — are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.
Essentially, Stoltenberg runs the headquarters near Brussels airport, which is moving just across the road this year to new premises inaugurated by NATO leaders on Thursday and estimated to cost more than $100,000. one billion euros.
He does not order allies. Its job is to encourage consensus and speak publicly on their behalf with one voice representing all 28 members.
WHY SHOULD AMERICANS CARE?
With the United States clearly capable of looking after itself militarily most of the time, many wonder why Americans should even care about NATO.
But the alliance is the only international forum where Washington agrees to put its military power to negotiate and can be persuaded to act differently by its allies.
It is also an organization that uses a lot of American taxpayers’ money. This money, in part, stimulates military spending and defense research and thus creates many jobs.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
On the ground, NATO has contributed in particular to maintaining peace in the Balkans and to the fight against the Taliban-led insurgency in war-torn Afghanistan – the largest operation ever carried out by the alliance, launched after the United States launched its joint “all for one and one for all” campaign. defense clause following the attacks of September 11.
This is the only time the clause, known as Article 5, has been activated.
While the Soviet Union is long gone, NATO continues to view Russia as a security threat and to offer protection to affected member states near Russian borders.
NATO is now joining the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group and setting up a counter-terrorism intelligence cell to improve information sharing. It will particularly focus on so-called foreign fighters who travel from Europe to train or fight with extremists in Iraq and Syria.
HOW MUCH SHOULD NATO DEFENSE COST?
President Donald Trump said Thursday that member states should be required to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defence. Only five members are currently meeting the target: Britain, Estonia, indebted Greece, Poland and the United States, which are spending more than all the other allies combined.
After years of defense cuts, budgets are slowly rising again. The 28 member countries, plus soon-to-join Montenegro, have pledged to spend 2% of their GDP on defense by 2024. Still, many are skeptical of this arbitrary outcome that ignores actual military spending where they are most needed. Germany should practically double its military budget and spend more than Russia.
In the European Union, member countries now spend an average of 1.34% on defence, compared to 3.6% in the United States. Beyond increased spending, the EU is now making active efforts to cooperate more between nations to eliminate what it sees as up to $100 billion a year in unnecessary duplication.