Military Committee

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Military Committee

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Dates of existence

1949

History

The MC fonds contains the records of the Military Comm In accordance with Article 9 of the North Atlantic Treaty and the guidance given by the Working Group on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during the first Council session in Washington in 1949, the Defence Committee(1) rapidly established the Military Committee (C1-D-1/1 and C1-D-1/2).During its few sessions held behind closed doors in Washington, the Military Committee gave policy guidance on military matters to the Standing Group, and advice on military questions to the Defence Committee and other bodies, and it recommended military measures for the unified defence of the North Atlantic region to the Defence Committee. The Military Committee was directly subordinate to the Defence Committee, and each member nation was represented by its chief of staff or a deputy. Iceland, which had no military forces, was represented by a civilian. Each member state in turn held the Chair of the Military Committee for one year (C1 D-1/2, DC 1/2).Two other groups which also sat in Washington came directly under the Military Committee: - the Standing Group(2) , the executive body, set up at the beginning, responsible for Military Committee everyday business;- the Military Representatives Committee (MRC), created at the end of 1950, to ensure communication of information and points of view between the Standing Group and Alliance member states not represented on it (C1 D-1/2, DC 1/2, DC 24/3 (Final) and MRC 1 (Final)).From 1951 to 1972 the Military Committee underwent various changes as NATO’s main structures were reorganized to meet the Organization’s increased responsibilities effectively. In the context of improving coordination between the various bodies, after the Defence Committee was disbanded, in 1951 the Military Committee became the Organization’s highest military authority, under the direct authority of the Council. In Lisbon in 1952 the Council decided not to make changes regarding the military bodies, and to further intensify its links with them (D-D(51)86 (Final) and C9-D/4 part 6).Because of the extensive criticisms of the highest military structures, and in response to the solutions proposed, in 1957 the Military Committee began to operate continuously, in the form of the Military Committee in Permanent Session (MC/PS), previously known as the Military Representatives Committee. Each chief of staff designated a permanent military representative to sit on that committee. The Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session (MC/CS) was to meet at least twice a year, if necessary away from the permanent headquarters in Washington. The permanent military representatives settled matters falling to the Military Committee, except for those requiring the full approval of the chiefs of staff. The Chair of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session was held for one year by each member state in turn. The Standing Group remained the executive agent of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session, but also became that of the Military Committee in Permanent Session. Each chief of staff designated a permanent military representative for the continuous sessions of the Committee. The Chair of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session was assisted by the standing Chair, i.e. the Chair of the Military Committee in Permanent Session. The latter, designated by the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session, was appointed for a term of two years, which could be extended by up to one year. The Chair was a purely international function, preferably held by an officer of a country not in the Standing Group, who had to convene the members, chair all permanent sessions of the Military Committee, and also attend all meetings of the Standing Group (MC 57/1, C-R(57)49 and MC 57/1 (Corrigendum 4)). The reorganization at the end of 1963 only affected the chairmanship of the Military Committee. From that time the permanent Chair was to chair both chiefs of staff and permanent sessions, still for a term of two to three years. A Presidency which changed every year was also established. The incumbent’s role in particular was to chair the opening and closing sessions of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session (MC 57/1 (Corrigendum 5)).The withdrawal of France from the Alliance’s integrated military structure led to the abolition of the Standing Group in 1966, and to the transfer of the Organization’s headquarters to Belgium and the Netherlands. In acquiring the powers of the Standing Group the Military Committee became the real centre for Alliance military policy and plans - it made recommendations on military problems to the Council and the Defence Planning Committee, and gave instructions to the Allied commands and subordinate military authorities. The International Planning Staff, in the personof its Director, came under the authority of the Military Committee Chairman. The Military Committee Representative (MCREP) to the Council, previously the Standing Group Representative (SGREP), provided liaison between the Military Committee and the Council, and with other bodies. The MCREP was assisted by a multinational staff and an administrative officer, and together they formed the Office of the Military Committee Representative. The military bodies previously under the Standing Group now came under the authority of the Military Committee. These were the Military Agency for Standardization (MAS), the Advisory Group on Aeronautical Research and Development (AGARD), the NATO Defence College (NDC), the Allied Communications Security Agency (ACSA), the Allied Long Lines Agency (ALLA), the Allied Naval Communications Agency (ANCA) and the Allied Radio Frequencies Agency (ARFA). From 1967 the Military Committee disposed of an executive body, the International Military Staff (IMS), made up of officers from MC member states. The Director IMS was designated by the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session, and was responsible to the Military Committee for the working of the IMS (C-M(66)59, C-R(66)26, MCM-85-66 (Revised), MC 112, MC 2/4 (Final) and MC 2/5 (Final))(3).

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