NATO is an active and leading advocate for peace and security on the international stage. Through its many operations, the alliance has proved both its willingness to act as a positive force for change today and its capacity to anticipate the security challenges of the future.
Lt. Gen. Frederick B. Hodges, commander of NATO’s Allied Land Command in Izmir, Turkey, presented an orientation and briefing April 6 to officers and leaders of the 1st Cavalry Division about the activation of LANDCOM and NATO’s command structure transformations.
As part of NATO’s vision to reflect the realities of economic austerity and next year’s transition in the Afghan theater, the command structure streamlined its organization from 11 to six headquarters. LANDCOM was activated Nov. 30, replacing the two land component commands in Heidelberg, Germany, and Madrid, Spain, and retains sole responsibility for the standardization and interoperability of all land forces from the 28-member nations that comprise the alliance.
“My headquarters exists primarily to ensure that we retain the effectiveness and interoperability of all NATO land forces,” Hodges said. “NATO has become more active in preventing conflict rather than waiting to be attacked.”
Before his arrival at Fort Hood, Hodges visited the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to talk to the students and see what capabilities the U.S. Army has for training and doctrine.
Hodges discussed many of the changes the alliance is making, such as the U.S. Army collaborating with LANDCOM and regionally aligning NATO land forces around the globe.
“The 1st Cavalry Division could potentially have a role in the Regionally Aligned Force, so I wanted to come talk to the commander, talk to the leaders and see how they were training and preparing,” Hodges said.
Regional alignment is a concept to develop innovative new approaches for helping entire units work with and among partner nation security forces.
“The alliance realized that it had to transform for life after (International Security Assistance Force), post-2014, so it could meet the security requirements of its member nations, but at an affordable, sustainable level,” Hodges said
Since NATO’s creation just after World War II, the first several decades of NATO’s existence saw a focus on training and preparation for potential conflict with the Soviet Union, but with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact nations, its focus changed to territorial integrity.
Following the end of the Cold War, the Bosnian support and stability mission in the 1990s, known as Operation Joint Endeavor, was the first time NATO had assisted a country that was not a NATO member.
The 9/11 attacks on the U.S. in 2001 was the first time in the alliance’s history that Article 5 of the NATO treaty (“An attack on one is an attack on all”) has ever been invoked. Since then, NATO has had forces deployed to Afghanistan to lead ISAF, while conducting anti-piracy, air policing and other contingency operations around the globe.
“NATO exists to ensure the security of all of its member nations,” he said. “We must never lose our capability of reacting quickly because we enjoy a long and successful history of training, exercising and deploying together.
“Unless we are responding to a direct attack on our soil, the U.S. Army cannot conduct large-scale, sustained operations alone in multiple theaters, nor should we,” he added.