Christopher Bennett examines how the Alliance has assisted the United States since 11 September and its contribution to the campaign against terrorism.
n the months since terrorists crashed hijacked airliners into the Pentagon and World Trade Center, NATO Allies and Partners have lined up behind the United States in an unprecedented display of support and solidari- ty. From invoking Article 5 in the immediate aftermath of the attacks to lending the United States the Alliance’s air- borne warning and control systems (AWACS) aircraft and preparing for a possible role in humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, actions have demonstrated louder than words the unity of Europe and America in the face of what are common security challenges. I
The decision on 12 September to invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, the core clause of NATO’s founding charter which states that an armed attack against one Ally in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all, remains the most profound expression of Alliance solidarity. Initially invoked provisionally, pending determination that the attacks on the United States were directed from abroad, the decision was confirmed by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson on 2 October after US envoys briefed the North Atlantic Council (NAC) on the results of investigations into the attacks.
Few of the Alliance’s founding fathers could have imag- ined that the first invocation of Article 5 would come in the wake of an attack on the United States and not on a European Ally. However, all would surely have been impressed by the speed of response and the degree of unity it represented. Moreover, the NAC’s historic decision was but one of many demonstrations of support for the United States and condemnations of the attacks made at NATO headquarters in the days following 11 September.
Also on 12 September, the 46 members of the Euro- Atlantic Partnership Council — 19 Allies and 27 Partners
unconditionally condemned the attacks as brutal and
senseless atrocities and an attack on their common values. Moreover, they agreed that they would not allow these val- ues to be compromised by those who follow the path of violence and pledged to undertake all efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism. On 13 September, the NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council condemned the attacks and agreed on the need for NATO-Russia cooperation in com- bating international terrorism. And on 14 September, the NATO-Ukraine Commission condemned the attacks on the
Christopher Bennett is editor of NATO Review.
United States and, in a statement following the meeting, Ukraine announced that it stood ready to contribute fully to ensuring that those responsible for the attacks were brought to justice.
Having invoked Article 5, the Allies agreed on 4 October
at the request of the United States — to take eight meas-
ures to implement it and expand the options available in the campaign against terrorism. Specifically, they agreed to enhance intelligence sharing and cooperation, both bilater- ally and in the appropriate NATO bodies, related to the threats posed by terrorism and the actions to be taken against it; to provide individually or collectively, as appro- priate and according to their capabilities, assistance to Allies and other states which are or may be subject to increased terrorist threats as a result of their support for the campaign against terrorism; and to take necessary meas- ures to provide increased security for facilities of the United States and other Allies on their territory.
The Allies also agreed to “backfill” selected Allied assets required to support operations against terrorism; to provide blanket overflight clearances for US and other Allied aircraft for military flights related to operations against terrorism; and to provide access for the United States and other Allies to ports and airfields on the territory of NATO nations for operations against terrorism. In addi- tion, the NAC agreed that the Alliance was ready to deploy part of its standing naval forces to the Eastern Mediterranean and five AWACS planes to the United States to support operations against terrorism.
On 8 October, five NATO AWACS aircraft, together with their crews — including personnel from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States — flew to the United States to assist with counter-terrorism operations. The deployment is for an ini- tial six months with a first rotation after six weeks. During this time, French AWACS aircraft have taken over respon- sibility for those tasks, which would normally have been performed by the NATO planes, in particular over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
NATO’s Standing Naval Force Mediterranean, which consists of eight frigates and one logistic-support ship from eight countries, set off for the Eastern Mediterranean on 9 October. These forces, which are under UK command, have not been involved in combat operations, but have