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Able Archer 83 was a ten-day NATO command post exercise starting on November 2, 1983 that spanned Western Europe, centred on SHAPE's Headquarters situated at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons. Able Archer exercises simulated a period of conflict escalation, culminating in a coordinated nuclear release. The 1983 exercise incorporated a new, unique format of coded communication, radio silences, participation by heads of state, and a simulated DEFCON 1 nuclear alert.
The realistic nature of the 1983 exercise, coupled with deteriorating relations
between the United States
and the Soviet Union
and the anticipated arrival of Pershing II
nuclear missiles in Europe, led some in the USSR to believe that Able Archer 83 was a ruse of war
, obscuring preparations for a genuine nuclear first strike
. This relatively obscure incident is considered by many historians to be the closest the world has come to nuclear war
since the Cuban Missile Crisis
of 1962 The threat of nuclear war abruptly ended with the conclusion of the Able Archer 83 exercise on November 11.
Operation Strikeback was a major naval exercise of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that took place over a ten-day period in September 1957.
As part of a series of exercises to simulate an all-out Soviet attack on NATO, Operation Strikeback was tasked with two objectives. Its initial objective was the deployment of NATO's naval forces (designated the "Blue Fleet") against other NATO forces attempting to simulate an "enemy" navy that featured a large number of submarines (designated the "Orange Fleet"). Its other objective was to have the Blue Fleet execute carrier-based air strikes against "enemy" formations and emplacements along NATO's northern flank in Norway.
Operation Strikeback involved over 200 warships, 650 aircraft, and 75,000 personnel from the United States Navy
, the United Kingdom's Royal Navy
, the Royal Canadian Navy
, the French Navy
, the Royal Netherlands Navy
, and the Royal Norwegian Navy
. As the largest peacetime naval operation up to that time, military analyst Hanson W. Baldwin
of the New York Times
characterized Operation Strikeback as "constituting the strongest striking fleet assembled since World War II."
Gladio (Italian: sword) is a code name denoting the clandestine NATO "stay-behind" operation in Italy after World War II, intended to counter an eventual Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. Although Gladio specifically refers to the Italian branch of the NATO stay-behind organisations, "Operation Gladio" is used as an informal name for all stay-behind organisations, sometimes called "Super NATO".
Operating in many NATO and even some neutral countries, Gladio was first coordinated by the Clandestine Committee of the Western Union (CCWU), founded in 1948. After the creation of NATO in 1949, the CCWU was integrated into the Clandestine Planning Committee (CPC), founded in 1951 and overseen by the SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), transferred to Belgium after France’s official withdrawal from NATO's Military Committee in 1966 — which was not followed by the dissolution of the French stay-behind paramilitary movements.
The role of the CIA
in sponsoring Gladio and the extent of its activities during the Cold War
era, and its relationship to terrorist attacks
perpetrated in Italy during the Years of Lead
and other similar clandestine operations is the subject of ongoing debate and investigation. Italy, Switzerland and Belgium have had parliamentary inquiries into the matter.
Operation Deny Flight was a NATO operation, begun on April 12, 1993, to enforce the United Nations (UN) no-fly zone in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The operation later expanded to providing close air support for UN troops in Bosnia, and carrying out coercive air strikes against targets in Bosnia. Twelve NATO members contributed forces to the operation, and by its end on December 20, 1995, NATO pilots flew 100,420 sorties.
As a part of the operation, the 28 February 1994 air battle over Banja Luka
represented the first combat engagement for the NATO forces in history, while during April 1994 NATO aircraft carried out their first ever bombing mission near Goražde
in Bosnia. These incidents played an important role in the development of NATO in the post-Cold War era
and set a precedent for future NATO operations. However, the Bosnian War continued for more than two years after Deny Flight was initiated and the operation led to several conflicts between the United Nations and NATO, particularly when UN peacekeeping
soldiers were taken hostage by the Bosnian Serbs in response to NATO bombings. Despite these setbacks, Deny Flight worked an important role in the course of the Bosnian War
, as its operations successfully prevented significant use of air power by either side in the conflict. While the air strikes executed under Deny Flight had only a small impact on the war, they set the precedent for Operation Deliberate Force
, a massive NATO bombing campaign in Bosnia that played a key role in putting an end to the war.