that France did not leave NATO in 1966 but continued to play a very active role in the Alliance?
Many people think that French President Charles de Gaulle took his country out of NATO in 1966 when he demanded that all military headquarters and installations not under French command depart French territory by 1967, but this is not the case.
What France did was withdraw from NATO's integrated military command structure – thus French personnel were no longer assigned to the staffs of headquarters in the NATO command structure and French units were not placed under NATO command, but France remained an active member of the Alliance itself and French personnel continued to serve at NATO's political headquarters in Brussels as well as in liaison offices at the other military headquarters.
The French armed forces also worked out secret arrangements for cooperation with NATO in wartime, so the Allies were sure that they could count on France in the event of a crisis or war.
When NATO began peacekeeping operations in the Balkans in the 1990s, French forces were active participants and France resumed its participation in the NATO Military Committee, because this body was making key decisions about peacekeeping operations. French personnel were also assigned to SHAPE and subordinate headquarters to assist in planning these operations, although they served as members of a separate "Balkans Planning Team” rather than on the permanent staffs.
In 2004, France moved one step closer to the NATO military structure by assigning personnel to the permanent staffs of SHAPE and its subordinate headquarters, and in 2009 France officially rejoined NATO's integrated military command structure.