Disarmament and Security in Europe

  • Hugh Beach


The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was set up in the early 1950s because the countries of Western Europe were afraid of the preponderant military strength of the Soviet Union and felt the need not only for an American political commitment to their defence but for the permanent stationing of large numbers of American servicemen and women in Europe, and a formal integrated military command structure to give effect to it. These features remain. Western Intelligence assessments in the early 1950s put the strength of Soviet armed forces against which NATO would have to plan its defence as 175 divisions. Thirty years later, the figure for Warsaw Pact divisions in Europe is cited in the Palme Commission’s Report as 177. The North Atlantic Treaty is still in force and has been acceded to by four more nations, Greece, Turkey, West Germany and Spain, and France remains a signatory. The key clause remains the declaration that an attack upon any one member state in Europe will be conceived as an attack upon all. The permanent command structure has grown enormously elaborate. There are now 375 000 American servicemen and women stationed in Europe: with their families they amount to half a million souls.


Nuclear Weapon North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Ballistic Missile Cruise Missile Warsaw Pact 
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Copyright information

© The Council for Arms Control 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugh Beach

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