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NATO Approves Combined Joint Task Force Concept

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 7, 1996 – NATO officials have agreed to a plan allowing the Western European Union to use NATO assets in military operations.

Officials also adopted the combined joint task force concept similar to the approach demonstrated during the Persian Gulf War and under way in Bosnia. They approved the concept as part of a restructuring plan announced following North Atlantic Council meetings in Berlin June 3. The Western European Union has no North American component, and contains a military arm. Western European Union members -- many of whom are in NATO -- wanted permission to use NATO assets outside of the NATO structure.

The agreement provides for a stronger, more flexible NATO and gives the Europeans a chance to shoulder more responsibility, said Secretary of State Warren Christopher. The decision preserves "the qualities that made NATO uniquely successful -- the core purpose of a collective defense, the integrated command structure and the vital trans-Atlantic link between Europe and the United States," he said.

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