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Few know that NATO was originally based in London, and then moved to a lovely series of buildings which faced the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. SHAPE, its military headquarters was based nearby in Rocquencourt. However, NATO relocated abruptly to Belgium in the 1960s.

In this episode we discuss this hectic time in NATO and SHAPE’s history including the reasons for leaving France, the French withdrawal from the integrated command structure and the rapid move of both Headquarters to Belgium.

Not many people know that, when the Alliance was founded, it was originally based in London. It later moved to Paris, into some very impressive headquarters which faced the Eiffel Tower. SHAPE, its military headquarters, was based in Rocquencourt, just outside Paris. In the late 1960s, NATO abruptly relocated to Belgium during a hectic time, marked by crises and changes in strategy.

In this episode we discuss France’s withdrawal from the integrated command structure and the reactions that this decision triggered. This included the move of NATO Headquarters to Brussels and SHAPE to Mons, the role of SACEUR General Lyman L. Lemnitzer in ensuring that NATO’s strategy and defence plans continued to keep Europe safe, and the Harmel Report, a key document that still guides NATO’s strategy today.

 

HOSTS: Dr Stella Adorf, Master Sergeant Alex Burnett, Dr Linda Risso

GUESTS: Professor Pierre Buillon, Professor Maurice Vaïsse

SOURCES:

NATO Declassified: France and NATO

VIDEO: 50th anniversary of NATO in Belgium (2017)

Final Communiqué, 7-8 June 1966

The Future Tasks of the Alliance. 'The Harmel Report'. 14 December 1967

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