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
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.
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.
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.