Short Note of COLD WAR & NATO from The History

Aug 25, 2021 - 08:07

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 was crucial for NATO, as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans.

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) was formed to direct forces in Europe and began work under Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower in January 1951. In September 1950, the NATO Military Committee called for an ambitious buildup of conventional forces to meet the Soviets and reaffirmed that position at the February 1952 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Lisbon.

The conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO's Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to 96 divisions. However, that requirement was dropped the following year to roughly 35 divisions, with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about 15 ready divisions in Central Europe and another 10 in Italy and Scandinavia.

Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary-General of NATO as the organization's chief civilian was created, and Lord Ismay was eventually appointed to the post. In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began. Exercise Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway.

Other major exercises that followed included Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Longstep, naval and amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean Sea, Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), Monte Carlo, a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving American, British, Greek, Italian, and Turkish naval forces.

Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, which forced a series of controversial negotiations, mainly between the United States and Britain, over how to bring both countries into the military command structure.

While that overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements initially made by the Western European Union to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion, including Operation Gladio, were transferred to NATO control. Ultimately, unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO's armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery. In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe.

The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union's motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected that proposal. On 17 December 1954, the North Atlantic Council approved MC 48, a key document in the evolution of NATO nuclear thought. MC 48 emphasized that NATO had to use atomic weapons from the outset of a war with the Soviet Union, whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first. That gave SACEUR the same prerogatives for automatic use of nuclear weapons that existed for the commander-in-chief of the US Strategic Air Command.

The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as "a decisive turning point in the history of our continent" by Halvard Lange, then the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister.[22] A major reason was that German manpower was necessary to have enough conventional forces to resist a Soviet invasion.

One of the immediate results of West German entry was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, which was signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.

Three major exercises were held concurrently in the northern autumn of 1957. Operation Counter Punch, Operation Strikeback, and Operation Deep Water were the most ambitious military undertaking for the alliance so far, involving more than 250,000 men, 300 ships, and 1,500 aircraft operating from Norway to Turkey.

What's Your Reaction?