Standing Group

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Standing Group

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The SG subfonds contains the records of the Standing Group. 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 (DC) rapidly established the Standing Group (C1-D-1/1 and C1-D-1/2). The Standing Group was subordinate to the Military Committee, and responsible for the everyday business of the latter, which met very rarely. It was made up of representatives of the United States, French and United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff. Its office was fixed in Washington. Other member states with military forces could each appoint a special representative for continuous liaison with the Standing Group.

For the purposes of a unified defence of the North Atlantic area, the Standing Group provided the Regional Planning Groups and the other military bodies with the political instructions and military information which they needed. On the basis of the Regional Groups’ defence plans, which it coordinated and combined, the Standing Group made recommendations to the Military Committee, as it was also invited to do on other strategic questions (C1 D 1/2, DC 1/2). From 1951 to 1966 the Standing Group underwent various changes as part of the reorganization of NATO’s main structures in order to meet the Organization’s increased responsibilities effectively. With the aim of improving coordination between the various bodies, after the Defence Committee(1) was disbanded the Military Committee, which fell directly under the Council’s authority in 1951, became the Organization’s highest military authority, and the Standing Group provided the prime channel of communication with the Council Deputies. In Lisbon in 1952 the Council decided not to change its position with regard to the military bodies, and to further intensify its links with them (D-D(51)86 (Final), C9-D/4). The progressive dissolution of the Regional Groups in favour of commands headed by a Supreme Commander, the need to involve the other nine nations more closely in the work of the Standing Group and the poor liaison between the military bodies and those responsible for armaments or financial and economic questions led the Military Committee to delegate more power to the Standing Group, and to create the Military Representatives Committee (MRC) and the post of Standing Group Liaison Officer (SGLO). At the end of 1950 the Military Representatives Committee was set up to represent the member states not belonging to the Standing Group. It came under the Military Committee, and comprised a representative of the Chief of Staff of each member nation of the Military Committee. However Iceland, which has no military forces, was not represented on the Committee, while Belgium also represented Luxembourg. The Committee was informed about Standing Group activities, and gave opinions that were supported by the staffs of all the member states. It sat permanently in Washington, and took decisions on certain questions in the name of the Military Committee when the latter was not in session. The Standing Group remained the agent and executive body of the Military Committee. It was the higher body to which the Supreme Commanders were responsible. It was also the directing and executive body of the Military Representatives Committee. The Chairman of the Standing Group was also the Chairman of the Military Representatives Committee. The chairmanship was held for three months in rotation. To ensure close cooperation between NATO’s civil and military authorities a Liaison Officer supported by a small staff represented the Standing Group with the Council in London. This official had no power of decision.

In 1952 a Standing Group Liaison Office at the new NATO Headquarters in Paris was set up. The Standing Group Representative (SGREP) with the North Atlantic Council represented the Standing Group as the agent of the Military Committee and directing and executive agent of the Military Representatives Committee. Other military bodies established in 1951 and 1952 received instructions from the Standing Group, i.e. the Military Agency for Standardization (MAS), the Advisory Group on Aeronautical Research and Development (AGARD), the NATO Defence College, the Air Training Advisory Group and various communications agencies in Europe such as the European Military Communications Coordinating Committee (EMCCC) and its sub-committee the European Naval Communications Agency (ENCA), the European Long Lines Agency (ELLA) and the European Radio Frequencies Agency (ERFA) (MC 22/2, MC 4th meeting, DC 24/3 (Final), C6-D/5 (Final), MRC 1, SG 112/11)(2) . For this purpose the Standing Group had working teams, a Secretariat and a Director (forming the embryo of the future Standing Group Planning Staff) with only French, British and American personnel, and stationed in Washington. The working teams prepared joint recommendations to the Standing Group, as well as recommendations on decisions which the Group had to take. There were permanent national working teams, made up of three qualified officers each belonging to one of the three member states, and temporary working teams set up as required. The working teams received instructions from their respective representatives with the Standing Group, and if necessary from the national staffs in Paris, London and Washington. The Standing Group and the working teams were supported by a Secretariat. Besides acting as a military secretariat, this provided for liaison with the military representatives of the Standing Group, the liaison representatives to the Standing Group, and with the Military Production and Supply Board (MPSB). A Director, reporting immediately to the Standing Group, was responsible for the smooth running of the working teams and the Secretariat.

From 1950 the operation and the staff of the Standing Group were extended so that it could deal effectively with all questions. A COSMIC Registry Section, a Communications-Electronics Coordination Section (CECS), Materiel Planners and a Logistics and Materiel Planning Section were put in place. The Logistics and Materiel Planning Section advised the Standing Group on questions concerning the Military Production and Supply Board. It cooperated closely with the Military Production and Supply Board Permanent Working Staff (PWS) liaison group. The Section also coordinated and supervised the advisory technical committees then entrusted with questions not in its remit. The nine advisory technical committees were: the Security Coordination Committee (SCC), Intelligence Committee (IC), Public Relations Policy Committee (PRPC), Standardization Policy and Coordination Committee (SPCC), Research and Development Ad Hoc Committee (RDC), Military Operating Arrangements Ad Hoc Committee (MOAC), Hydrographic Information Ad Hoc Committee (HIC), Meteorological Information Ad Hoc Committee (MC) and the Air Navigation Ad Hoc Committee (CAN). In 1951 the Materiel Planners (three officers each from one of the three member states as from 1952) became a permanent working team. The working teams, now known as international planning teams and composed of nine officers from each of the member states, were grouped in the Planning and General Studies Section. The Materiel Planners formed the Logistics and Materiel Planning Section. There was also a Statistical Section attached to the Secretariat. Finally, at the start of 1951, a Steering Committee comprising three assistant directors designated by each member nation of the Group was created to establish firm links between the Director and the representatives on the one hand, and between the Director and the working teams on the other.

After Lisbon, the responsibilities of the Director and the Standing Group Secretariat were combined, and the secretary also became an assistant director (C1 D 1/2, DC 1/2, SG 2/1 to SG 2/4, SG 2/6, DSGM-31-51, SG 7 (Final), SG 2/8 and DSGM-222-52).In 1955 an International Planning Team report was approved which really embodied the wish for increased cooperation between the Standing Group and the Military Representatives Committee, recommending that the Military Representatives be given all the documents required for their work, systematically informed of and consulted about studies planned, and given regular briefings by the International Planning Teams (SG 14/6 (Final)). The many criticisms of the higher military structures and the solutions proposed by the different players led to significant changes in 1957. The Military Representatives Committee, henceforth known as the Military Committee in Permanent Session (MC/PS), began to function continuously. The Standing Group remained the executive agent of the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session (MC/CS), but also became that of the Military Committee in Permanent Session. The Chairman of the Military Committee in Permanent Session was also the standing Chairman of the Military Committee. Designated by the Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff Session, he was preferably from a member state not belonging to the Standing Group. The Chairman had a purely international role, with a term of office of two years that might be extended to three. The Chairman was aided by the Director of the Standing Group staff. Planners from non-members of the Standing Group were assigned to the Standing Group Planning Staff, while the Secretariat was also internationalized by personnel from countries outside the Standing Group (MC 57/1, MC 71/1 (Revised), C-R(57)49 and MCM-60-63). Finally, for the sake of equitable participation by all member states on the one hand and efficient working of the Standing Group on the other, the Standing Group Planning Staff was made fully international in 1964 following approval of the Standing Group report by the Military Committee in Permanent Session. The Staff was thus made up of the Director’s Office, four divisions (the Long Term Planning Division, the Organization, Training and Operational Plans Division, the Logistics and Infrastructure Division and the Research and Development, Agencies, and Special Projects Division), the Assistant Director for Meteorology and the Chairman of the Communications-Electronics Committee. The Director’s Office comprised the Director and a small personal staff of four officers. The Director, the head of the international organization, was selected by the Military Committee in Permanent Session from the candidates put forward by the non-Standing Group nations, for a term of two years which could be extended by up to one year. Each division had an Assistant Director and about ten staff officers tasked with the study projects (MCM-60-63; MC 2/2, section 2). At the end of this reorganization the Standing Group Staff was at the service of all member states, while the members of the Standing Group and their national delegations represented the interests of their respective countries. It was the withdrawal of France from the Alliance’s integrated military structure in particular that led to the abolition of the Standing Group in 1966. The powers of the Standing Group were transferred to the Military Committee as of 1 July 1966. The International Planning Staff, in the person of its Director, was then put under the authority of the Military Committee Chairman. The Standing Group Representative, henceforth the Military Committee Representative (MCREP) with the North Atlantic Council, together with his staff, was likewise put under the authority of the Military Committee in the person of the Chairman. The military bodies previously under the authority of the Standing Group, including 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), henceforth also came under the Military Committee (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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