Beginnings

1 - The Birth of NATO

The Atlantic Alliance had a difficult birth. Even with the evidence of a visible common threat - the Soviet expansionism - it was not easy to overcome old attitudes between nations with different cultures, traditions, political inclinations, and who had been in some cases enemies during the recent world conflict. The task of creating an effective defensive alliance in which these nations were to maintain their full individual sovereignty was very demanding. It is said that the closest known precedent was dated some 24 centuries before, when the ancient Greeks formed the "amphiktionia," confederacies of towns governed by a council of delegates which had responsibility over a large spectrum of common decisions. More

2 - Building the Allied Organization

As a main characteristic of the new structure, NATO decided that its headquarters would be integrated, multinationally and operationally during peacetime. This was a totally new concept. While Alliance decisions were to be taken at the multi-national level, where individual nations would keep their sovereignty, the executive military organisation adopted the principle of "one man's" leadership. Personnel assigned by the nations to allied commands were to be fully subordinated to their allied commanders assuming, therefore, an "international status." As far as national forces were concerned, each nation would decide which to assign to NATO, which to define "earmarked" to NATO and which to keep permanently for national tasks. More

3 - The Birth of AFSOUTH

In May 1951 Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote a letter to the Standing Group proposing the appointment of U.S. Adm. Robert Bostwick Carney as Southern Commander, with headquarters in Italy. As a consequence, Naples was a quite obvious choice, in order to allow Carney - who had the national duty of Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Naval Forces Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, with headquarters in London - to use fleet support for his new headquarters. In a press conference in Paris, on 19 June 1951, Gen. Eisenhower formally announced the appointment of Carney, with effect the same day. More

4 - Greece & Turkey Enter the Alliance

The first major change in the NATO posture in the Mediterranean was the welcoming of Greece and Turkey into the Alliance on 18 February 1952. By the terms of the basic treaty, this meant recognition that these two European states were "in a position to further the principles of the treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area," which, despite its name, included the entire Mediterranean as well. The admission of Greece and Turkey extended eastward the boundaries of AFSOUTH to include all of the Mediterranean and Black Seas and Greece and Turkey landmasses.
 
On 8 September of the same year, a new land command was established for the eastern areas, the Allied Land Forces Southeastern Europe (LANDSOUTHEAST), whose headquarters were activated in Izmir (Turkey). The area of responsibility stretched from the Caucasus to the western shore of Greece and provided security for 35 million people. A subordinate headquarters, the Thessaloniki (Greece) Advanced Command Post was also activated. The first Commander was Lt. Gen. William G. Wymann, U.S. Army. Both Greece and Turkey committed most of their armies to NATO. The six Southern Region Nations (France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, U.K. and U.S.) were all represented on the LANDSOUTHEAST staff.
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