Opinion, WVPA Sharing

Opinion: The Importance of NATO on its 75th Anniversary

NATO created on April 4, 1949

By Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General

Born out of the ashes of post WWII, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, commonly referred to simply as NATO, was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and ten Western European nations to provide collective security against the growing threat of a hostile Soviet Union and to alleviate regional instability.

This week, NATO celebrated its 75th anniversary. Seventy-five years of friendship, partnership, and common bonds that tie and strengthen us. Since its inception, the alliance has flourished, overcoming challenges, welcoming new members and partners, and helping to set the course for international peace and cooperative security.

The purpose of NATO has been to secure peace in Europe, to promote cooperation among its members, and to guard freedom. NATO commits its member nations to democracy, individual liberty, the rule of law, and to peaceful resolution of disputes. While the threat in the security environment posed to NATO has changed over the past 75 years, the purpose, values, and founding principles of the alliance have not changed and remain steadfast.

With the addition of Finland in 2023 and Sweden in 2024, NATO now stands at 32 member nations and is strategically aligned with more than 40 non-member countries and international organizations called NATO partners. This partnership network strengthens security worldwide.

Today, NATO is deeply involved in a multitude of peace keeping and support initiatives. These include peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, Operation Sea Guardian in the Mediterranean and additional maritime security mission in the Aegean Sea protecting freedom of navigation and combatting illegal human trafficking, supporting humanitarian disaster relief efforts, and is engaged in extensive counter terrorism operations throughout Europe and beyond. It continues to be the most powerful and dynamic alliance on the planet to advance democratic governance, honor the rule of law, protect and promote civil and human rights, and build an increasingly open international economy that contributes to stability and opportunity around the globe.

Our West Virginia National Guard has a long and proud history of working with our NATO allies to further solidarity and mutual defense. In 2024 alone, our Soldiers and Airmen have and will work side-by-side with NATO allies in Europe during major international response exercises such as Allied Spirit ’24, Immediate Response ’24, Defender Europe ’24, and Combined Resolve ’24. Locally, NATO member states will travel to West Virginia to participate in the multi-national cybersecurity exercise Locked Shields ’24 and will train with our Special Operations Forces throughout the state for multiple Ridge Runner and Ridge Healer exercises dealing with Irregular Warfare operations and advanced combat medical triage and treatment scenarios. Last year for Ridge Runner, personnel from 18 NATO and partner nations spent time in the Mountain State with our own forces.

While bringing millions of dollars of funding and purchasing to our state benefitting local economies, more importantly, NATO presence and engagements provide our troops the opportunity to share and refine tools and techniques that enhance our readiness, lethality, and preparedness, while providing our state and our fellow West Virginians the opportunity to shine on the world stage. All as we work to enhance cooperation and interoperability on shared global challenges helping to prove the true strategic importance of our Guard and our state.

In my role as The Adjutant General, I have personally been able to experience the true friendships, comradery, and importance of our NATO alliance. My personal experiences over the course of my career have done nothing but fortify my resolve and recognition of the critical need of NATO, and I am so very proud of the contributions our One Guard family makes to contribute to its strength.

NATO remains the most successful military alliance in history, the anchor of an American-led peace that fostered Western prosperity. NATO is the indispensable alliance for transatlantic and homeland security, and a true cornerstone of global security.

As a nation, we are stronger with our Allies and partners. As a nation, we are stronger with NATO.

Here’s looking forward to the next 75 years of NATO strength, security, and success!

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address