From Jim MacClay, Web Staff  Cold War Index      NEXT

Above: NATO Flag & 3AD decal with motto "Point of NATO Shield"

Below: a message to the soldiers of the 3AD published by
Spearhead Newspaper on April 12, 1976 and applicable to 1956-1990.

(written in 1976)


Why are you here?

Maybe you've asked yourself that question and maybe you've never really been able to answer it. Why are you here in Europe, when you could be back home doing what you'd like to be doing in familiar surroundings? The answer lies in what NATO is.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was born shortly after World War II ended. At that time, large numbers of Soviet troops remained in Eastern Europe as occupation forces. Governments set up by these forces were pro-communist and have come to be called the Warsaw Pact countries. Besides the USSR, these countries include Bulgaria, Hungary, Rumania, Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

Because of the threat posed by the large numbers of Soviet troops along the border of West Germany, 15 Western nations formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or as it's sometimes called, the Atlantic Alliance, in 1949. The member nations agreed that an attack on any one of them would be considered an attack against all. Since that time, five U.S. presidents have affirmed the United State's commitment to the Atlantic Alliance, a commitment based on important, common interests among the member nations.

NATO, itself, is made up of ambassadors from the 15 countries involved and not the military. As this council of members decides how to support that common interest of all countries, the military forces become involved.

NATO's policy is based on two principles. The first is to maintain adequate military strength and political unity to deter aggression and other forms of military or political pressure. The second is to pursue a policy aimed at a relaxation of tensions between East and West - a policy based to a large extent on general military strength.

Facing off against the combined NATO forces are those of the Warsaw Pact, formed in 1955 to join the military forces of Eastern European countries.

There is one vital interest shared by both East and West - the prevention of nuclear war. At present, the avoidance of such a catastrophe depends on a balance of military might and by increasing understanding in East-West relationships. Such improvements include NATO-supported treaties banning nuclear testing and talks aimed at limiting the use and manufacture of strategic arms.

But the question still remains. Why are you here? Why is the United States concerned in European affairs?

The answer is simply that the U.S. Forces are in Europe not to defend the Europeans, but to defend the United States.

About 85 percent of American troops in Europe are stationed in Germany, a leading member of the common market and a strong supporter of European unity. Add to that the fact that the United States enjoys strong economic and social bonds with Western Europe. But to continue these bonds, and to retain its position as a world power, the United States must keep western Europe free from Communist domination.

The best way for the United States to keep Western Europe free and thereby to deter aggression against America is to join other nations with the same interests. This is the idea for the U.S.'s membership in NATO.

The nations of Europe are also involved in their own defense. The European NATO nations supply 90 percent of the NATO ground forces and 75 percent of the air forces. West Germany, for instance, supplies 12 regular divisions to NATO.

The success of the NATO alliance is reassuring. For a quarter century, hostile aggressions against the North Atlantic area have been prevented.

The men and women of USAREUR provide a ready force of high professional quality that, in conjunction with allied forces have made NATO a success. The better prepared these forces are to enter combat, the less likely that they will have to and that negotiation will replace hostilities. The NATO nations are working for peace.

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