Friday, June 11, 2010

Role of NATO During Early Cold War

Early Cold War

The unity of NATO was breached early on in its history, with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle’s presidency of France from 1958 onward. De Gaulle protested the United States’ hegemonic role in the organisation and what he perceived as a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight. D. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the United States and the United Kingdom, and also for the expansion of NATO’s coverage to include geographical areas of interest to France, most notably Algeria, where France was waging a counter-insurgency and sought NATO assistance.

Considering the response given to be unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began to build an independent defence for his country. On 11 March 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean fleet from NATO command; three months later, in June 1959, de Gaulle banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons on French soil. This caused the United States to transfer two hundred military aircraft out of France and return control of the ten major air force bases it had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967. The last of these was the Toul-Rosieres Air Base, home of the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, which was relocated to Ramstein Air Base in West Germany.

In the meantime, France had initiated an independent nuclear deterrence program, spearheaded by the “(Striking Force”). France tested its first nuclear weapon, Gerboise Bleue, on 13 February 1960.

Though France showed solidarity with the rest of NATO during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, de Gaulle continued his pursuit of an independent defence by removing France’s Atlantic and Channel fleets from NATO command. In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, an all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. This withdrawal precipitated the relocation of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) from Paris to Casteau, north of Mons, Belgium, by 16 October 1967. France remained a member of the alliance throughout this period and subsequently rejoined NATO’s Military Committee in 1995, and intensified working relations with the military structure. However, France has not yet rejoined the integrated military command and no non-French NATO troops are allowed to be based on its land.

The creation of NATO necessitated the standardisation of military technology and unified strategy, through Command, Control and Communications centers (aka C4ISTAR)> The STANAG (Standardisation Agreement) insured such coherence. Hence the 7.62 × 51 NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries. Fabrique Nationale’s FALI became the most popular 7.62 NATO rifle in Europe and served into the early 1980s. Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardised, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base.

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