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Cold War

5 - The Cold War

The year 1956 was full of events which significantly influenced the geostrategic situation in Europe. In February, the opening of the 20th congress of the Soviet Communist Party marked the beginning of the "destalinizations." In March, both Tunisia and Morocco became independent. In July, the President of Egypt Gamal Abd El Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal. In October, the Hungarian people's rebellion started, repressed by a Soviet intervention. Almost simultaneously the Suez crisis was escalated by the Israeli "Sinai campaign" followed by the French-British intervention, which was not approved by the U.S. The Alliance's solidarity seemed to reach the lowest level just as the Cold War was reaching a peak.

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6 - The First Reorganisation

Since 1952, AFSOUTH had been composed of an integrated staff from six nations: France, Greece, Italy, Turkey, the United Kingdom and United States. A change became necessary after an official announcement was made by the French government on 29 March 1966: French personnel would withdraw from the NATO integrated military structure, assignment of French forces to international Commands would terminate and all the NATO or allied units or installations would be transferred from French territory by 1 April 1967. The NATO Council, therefore, had to make appropriate modifications to the Allied organisation. As France continued to be a member of the Alliance, a new forum was established to discuss military questions in which France would not participate: the Defence Planning Committee. SHAPE Headquarters was transferred to Belgium, along with the NATO Headquarters. The Central European Command was hosted by the Netherlands, with a German commander, while Italy was asked to provide a new home for the NATO Defence College.

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7 - AFSOUTH POST: The Beginnings

The installation now known as AFSouth Post had its beginnings in 1932, when it was designed to provide a home for the orphans of Naples, including orphans of Italian sailors--a function it never served.
Funding was contributed by the Foundation Bank of Naples to celebrate its 400th anniversary, and construction began in 1936. It was completed in 1939 by the Cidronio firm, which worked on a commission from the Bank of Naples. The institute was named "Istituto Figli del Popolo". The original installation was designed and built to house 5.000 orphans in the main buildings, with smaller buildings designed as support areas, such as kitchens, bakeries, administrative offices, etc.
The formal inauguration of the facility, under the name "Collegio Costanzo Ciano della Gioventu' Italiana del Littorio di Napoli" took place on 9 May 1940, by Vittorio Emanuele III, King of Italy. The obelisk which is prominently situated in front of Building "O” is a stylized rudder, which was to be the symbol of this compound. Tunnels were constructed at the same time as a result of a law which had been passed requiring air raid shelters for each new construction.

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8 - The Soviet Presence in The Mediterranean

That was the first opportunity taken by the Soviets to demonstrate their willingness to influence major events in the area by the use of military power. During that crisis the Soviet Mediterranean Squadron numbered up to 70 units, some of which were in Port Said and Alexandria, to prevent Israeli attacks against those ports. The Cold War was getting even colder. The invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 contributed to the lowering temperature.

For the Mediterranean it was the prelude to Albania renouncing its membership of the Warsaw Pact. Late that year, the MARAIRMED Command was activated in Naples to improve NATO surveillance in the Mediterranean. The Alliance's concern for the never-ending Soviet penetration, by any means, in the Mediterranean basin was reflected in this recognised need for increased vigilance. NATO ministers instructed the Council in permanent session to keep the situation under close review. In the framework of measures studied at a Reykjavik meeting the previous June, the NATO Defence Planning Committee approved, in May 1969, the future establishment of a Naval On-Call Force Mediterranean (NOCFORMED).

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