The alliance is bringing its twenty-year mission in Afghanistan to a close in 2021, as it looks to bolster its military deterrent in Europe and provide security assistance in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

Founded in 1949 as a bulwark against Soviet aggression, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) remains the pillar of U.S.-European military cooperation.

An expanding bloc of NATO allies has taken on a broad range of missions since the close of the Cold War, many well beyond the Euro-Atlantic region.

President Joe Biden has sought to recommit the United States to NATO and mend transatlantic ties that became strained under the Donald Trump administration.

Who controls NATO?

NATO’s Command Structure is under the authority of the Military Committee, NATO’s highest military authority composed of the Chiefs of Defence of all twenty-nine member countries.

The NCS consists of two strategic commands: Allied Command Operations (ACO) and Allied Command Transformation (ACT).

ACO, under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), is responsible for the planning and execution of all NATO military operations, as directed by the North Atlantic Council.

ACO consists of a strategic-level headquarters, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) located in Mons (Belgium), along with two Joint Force Commands (JFC) in Naples (Italy) and Brunssum (the Netherlands), each of which is capable of deploying up to a major joint operation capable headquarters out of the area.

ACO is further organized into three major tactical-level commands for air, land, and sea operations, each with a dedicated headquarters.


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