NATO Agrees to Operations Outside of Europe

June 22, 2003

On June 12, NATO ministers meeting in Brussels agreed on a "new streamlined NATO command structure" to prepare the alliance for missions far outside Europe, including a supporting role in Iraq.

The decision came as Spain and Ukraine each committed a brigade to an 8,000-strong multinational division to help in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The new division will be lead by Poland with NATO's support, officials said.

"What we have today is an alliance that has come together to say we should play a role in the reconstruction of Iraq, NATO should play a role outside of its traditional geographic areas, including as far away as Afghanistan," a senior US military official was quoted as saying. "This is a new NATO, a NATO transformed," said alliance Secretary General George Robertson in welcoming the ministers. "A NATO able to meet its commitments when times are tough from the Straits of Gibraltar through the Balkans to southern Turkey."

The overhaul of the command structure puts all NATO operations under a single strategic command led by an American, NATO officials said. A second strategic command based in Norfolk, Virginia will focus on training and other efforts to transform NATO militarily into a force capable of deploying rapidly "to intervene in far flung crises." The new structure will include a 20,000-strong NATO Response Force that is "ready to deploy within days." Plans call for training to begin in the fall 2003 and to have an initial force ready within a year, officials said.

The new NATO structure is a result of U.S. pressure on its European allies. NATO is an aggressive, military alliance created and used by U.S. imperialism to keep the European powers under U.S. hegemony and to enforce the colonial rule of U.S. and Western imperialism.