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Fonds MC - 03 - Military Committee
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MC

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03 - Military Committee

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Military Committee

Administrative history

The MC fonds contains the records of the Military Committee.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).

Archival history

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Scope and content

The documents in the MC fonds consist of Military Committee and Standing Group reports and directives. They trace the Military Committee’s discussions and decisions, and also include proposals by the signatory states.
They deal with the organization and operation of the military structure: setting up a supreme headquarters in Europe and new regional groups, activities of the Standing Group, reorganization, charters and terms of reference, directives, and activities of the working groups and military bodies subordinate to the Military Committee, such as the NATO Defence College, the Military Agency for Standardization and the Advisory Group on Aeronautical Research and Development. After the disbanding of the Standing Group, the documents concern in particular the organization of the International Military Staff, consultation procedures between the IMS and the other staffs, NATO exercises and the security system within the Organization.
The Military Committee was mainly concerned with direction and advice on military doctrine and strategy. It was responsible for conducting the Alliance’s military affairs, and concerned with NATO policies regarding the North Atlantic region defence strategy, dealing with telecommunications, the control and protection of maritime commerce, submarine activities, aerospace, the air defence system, meteorological and oceanographic services, the infrastructure and Soviet forces studies.

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System of arrangement

The documents issued by the Military Committee have been assembled in four major types: Military Committee documents, Military Committee memoranda, the records of meetings of the Military Committee and then of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session (MC/CS), and the meeting records of the Military Committee in Permanent Session (MC/PS). The documents are organized by theme according to a decimal classification system, whereas the memoranda and meeting records are in chronological order.
The documents organized by theme bear the reference MC followed by a number (e.g. MC 1 for the first subject, MC 2, MC 2/1 for the second subject).
The memoranda have the reference MM for 1949 and the reference MCM for subsequent years, or even MCM(Paris) for 1956 documents, followed by a number and the year (for example, MM-1-49, MCM-1-50 and MCM(Paris)-1-56).
From the third meeting in 1950, Military Committee meeting records bear the reference MC, followed by the number of the meeting (“MC 1st Meeting”, or “MC 1re Réunion” in French) or the session number with the meeting number in brackets (“MC 5th Session (1st Meeting)” or “MC 5e Session (1re Réunion)” in French). Then, when the Military Committee in Permanent Session (MC/PS) was instituted, the reference for Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session (MC/CS) meetings became “Record - MC/CS” (in English) and “PV - MC/CS” or “Procès-verbal - MC/CS” in French, followed by the meeting number (Record - MC/CS 21, PV - MC/CS 21, Procès-verbal - MC/CS 33). Documents concerning informal meetings of the Military Committee bear the reference “Note for Record - MC/CS Inf Mtg" followed by the date in English (Note for Record - MC/CS Inf Mtg 22 Aug 63) or, after 1970, "Record - Informal MC/CS Session" (in English) and "" (in French). A note from the Chair of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session (MC/CS) to the Military Committee in Permanent Session (MC/PS) in 1962 has the reference “Note for Record”.
Military Committee in Permanent Session (MC/PS) meeting records, which appeared in 1958, bear the reference MC followed by the number of the meeting (“MC 1st Meeting”, or “MC 1re réunion” in French). To distinguish them from Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session records, Military Committee in Permanent Session meeting records rapidly received the reference “Record - MC/PS“ (in English) and “PV - MC/PS” (in French), followed by the meeting number (Record - MC/PS 14, PV - MC/PS 14). Documents concerning informal meetings of the time carry a different reference, i.e. “Note for Record. Informal MC/PS Mtg” in English and “Note pour les archives - Réunion non officielle du CM SP” in French, followed by the date. There are varying references for informal meetings concerning the Chairman only: "Note for Record - Chmn MC Inf Mtg" or "Note for Record - Informal Meeting of Chairman MC and MNCs" (in English), followed by the date. From the end of 1964, the reference of Military Committee in Permanent Session meetings became “Record - MC“ (in English) and “PV - MC” (in French), followed by the meeting number (Record - MC 144, PV - MC 152). Between 1966 and 1969 documents concerning special Military Committee meetings bear various references (“Note for Record - Special Meeting”, “Record - Special Meeting”, “Record - Special MC Meeting”, “Record - MC Special Meeting”, “Record - MC Restricted Session”). From 1969, Military Committee in Permanent Session (MC/PS) meeting records become “Record - MC” followed by the number of the meeting in the year and then by the year (Record - MC 1-69). This reference is also used for documents relating to special, private and restricted sessions.

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NATO publicly disclosed information is available for research and education purposes. Any commercial use requires the written permission of NATO. Please credit the NATO Archives should any documents be used for publication. Guidelines for the proper citation of NATO publicly disclosed information can be found on the NATO Archives website (http://www.nato.int/archives).

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The documents of the Military Committee were not all circulated in NATO’s two official languages, English and French.

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