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