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Overview & Rank Insignia

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military organization is under the direction of the NATO Military committee. more..

Rank Insignia

bullet NATO Rank Codes - 1992 
 NATO Naval Insignia 

NATO Military Organization

Senior military officers from each member country serve as national Military Representatives to NATO and as members of the Military Committee in permanent session, under the chairmanship of an elected Chairman (CMC). Like the political decision-making bodies, the Military Committee also meets regularly at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of Defence (CHODs). Iceland, which has no military forces, is represented at such meetings by a civilian official. The Committee is the highest military authority in NATO, working under the overall political authority of the Council, DPC and NPG.

On a day-to-day basis, the work of the Military Committee is undertaken by the Military Representatives, acting on behalf of their Chiefs of Defence. They work in a national capacity, representing the best interests of their nations while remaining open to negotiation and discussion so that consensus can be reached. This often involves reaching agreement on acceptable compromises, when this is in the interests of the Alliance as a whole and serves to advance its overall objectives and policy goals. The Military Representatives therefore have adequate authority to enable the Military Committee to discharge its collective tasks and to reach prompt decisions.

The Committee is responsible for recommending to NATO's political authorities those measures considered necessary for the common defence of the NATO area. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council, as well as for the efficient operation of Military Committee agencies (see Chapter 14).

The Committee assists in developing overall strategic concepts for the Alliance and prepares an annual long term assessment of the strength and capabilities of countries and areas posing a risk to NATO's interests. Its additional responsibilities in times of crises, tension or war are to advise the Council and Defence Planning Committee of the military situation and to make recommendations on the use of military force, the implementation of contingency plans and the development of appropriate rules of engagement.

The Military Committee meets every Thursday, following the regular Wednesday meeting of the Council, so that it can follow up promptly on Council decisions. In practice, meetings can also be convened whenever necessary and both the Council and the Military Committee often meet much more frequently. As a result of the Alliance's role in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, the internal and external adaptation of Alliance structures, the development of partnership and cooperation with other countries and of the new institutions to oversee these developments, the frequency of meetings of all the decision-making bodies of the Alliance has greatly increased.

The Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session (CHODS) normally meets three times a year. Two of these Military Committee meetings occur in Brussels and one is hosted by NATO nations, on a rotational basis.

In the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and Partnership for Peace (PfP), the Military Committee meets regularly with EAPC/PfP Partner countries at the level of national Military Representatives (once a month) and at CHODS level (twice a year) to deal with military cooperation issues.

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Last updated: 07/19/04.