Academic journal article Military Review

NATO: Rewarding Service in the Alliance

Academic journal article Military Review

NATO: Rewarding Service in the Alliance

Article excerpt

SERVICE WITH NATO offers U.S. Army officers leadership challenges that, if properly mastered, can lead to language and cultural knowledge while fostering patience, steadfastness, and the ability to listen to others. According to the 2005 U.S. Department of Defense's (DOD's) Defense Language Transformation Roadmap, "[e]stablishing a new 'global footprint' for DOD and transitioning to a more expeditionary force will bring increased requirements for language and regional knowledge to work with new coalition partners in a wide variety of activities, often with little or no notice. This new approach to warfighting in the 21st century will require forces that have foreign language capabilities beyond those generally available in today's forces." (1)

DOD is taking officer language training quite seriously. The Defense Language Transformation Roadmap requires junior officers to complete language training; allocates 1-year assignments for junior officers to serve with a foreign military or national constabulary force; and stipulates that general officers/flag officers must have foreign language ability. (2) A tour with NATO will give Army officers many opportunities to acquire language skills and learn about foreign cultures. Officers will also learn how to conduct business in an alliance in which each country has a national agenda.

At its creation half a century ago, NATO focused primarily on the defense and security of its members. From 1945 to 1949, West European countries and their North American allies grew concerned about the Soviet's expansionist policies. With the Brussels Treaty of 1948, five of the countries developed a strong common defense system to resist ideological, political, and military threats to their security. Negotiations with the United States and Canada culminated in the Treaty of Washington in April 1949, bringing into being the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to serve as a common security system based on a partnership among 12 countries.

Over the next half-century, the NATO alliance continued to expand. Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955, and Spain in 1982. In 1999, the alliance inducted the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, all former Soviet satellites. That year, NATO also launched the Membership Action Plan to help aspiring countries join the alliance by focusing their preparations on meeting specific goals and priorities. (3)

At its Prague Summit in November 2002, NATO invited Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia to participate in talks about the formal obligations of NATO membership and reforms needed to enhance their contributions to the alliance. In 2004, after issuing letters of intent to the invited countries, NATO prepared accession protocols, the allies duly signed and ratified them, and the seven countries became full members. NATO now includes 26 nations, but that number might soon increase: The Istanbul Summit on 28 June 2004 "reaffirmed that NATO's door remains open to new members" and encouraged Albania, Croatia, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to "continue the reforms necessary to progress towards NATO membership." (4) More recently, on 21 April 2005 in Vilnius, Lithuania, NATO invited Ukraine to begin "intensified dialog" on Ukraine's aspirations to membership. (See figure 1.)

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

While NATO continues to increase in size, it is also transforming operationally. In May 1991, Yugoslavia's defense minister declared that his country was in a state of civil war, and the Balkans quickly became the focus of the world's attention. Paving the way for intervening in the Balkans, NATO adopted a new strategy, a Declaration on Peace and Cooperation that included the participation of nine non-NATO countries.

The first NATO combat operation under the new strategy took place on 28 February 1994, when four NATO fighters shot down four Bosnian jets for violating a U. …

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