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Alliance created to defend against Warsaw PackAlliance created to defend against Warsaw Packaggression seeks mission in post-Cold War world Tracing the development of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from the end of the Cold War to the present, several NATO officials addressed a small crowd at the University yesterday. Nearing the end of a national lecture tour, U.S. Navy Capt. David Taylor, German Army Lt. Col. Gunter Forstenichner, and Col. Panayot Panayotov from the Bulgarian army discussed the alliance's structure. Comprised of 16 countries, NATO has shifted its focus as world events have changed, according to Taylor, who began working for the alliance about six months ago. "During the Cold War, our primary role was to deter the Warsaw Pact from an attack," Taylor said. "If we could not deter the pact from an attack, then our role was to defend. "But now, our concepts of operation are different from the confrontational atmosphere during the Cold War," he added. After the Warsaw Pact dissolved and the Cold War ended, many questioned whether the world still needed NATO. Especially between 1989 and 1991, Taylor said, alliance leaders reevaluated their role and the state of foreign affairs. "What we realized was that history does not come to a screeching halt," Taylor said. "If there was a garden in Eastern Europe, it certainly wasn't rosy." The three leaders often referred to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia as an area where NATO assistance is desperately needed. In addition to responding to new international problems, the alliance has created a new strategic concept designed for "peace, crisis and war." The new concept focuses on fostering dialogue and cooperation between countries, managing crises and addressing "multifaceted and multi-directional" risks, Taylor said. Taylor also identified economic hardship, nationalism and ethnic conflict as some of the conditions that could pose serious risks to stability. Included in the new strategic concept is the Partnership for Peace, a branch of NATO that has developed relations with 26 countries, many of whom would eventually like to join the alliance. But some are reluctant to admit new countries because all the members must approve any action the organization takes -- thus stalling decisive moves. This year alone, Partnership for Peace has sponsored 90 programs worldwide for its member nations. Some of these projects included seminars and military exercises to help the countries remain strong and stable. Ultimately, though, NATO's goal for peace has withstood the drastic changes in foreign affairs the past few years. "And we old buggers are relying very much on you guys," Forstenichner said. Deeming NATO the most successful international alliance ever, Taylor said his experiences with the organization have shown that genuine cooperation between nations is possible. "I was amazed at the ability and commitment of the European officers to attempt to look at a situation from the perspective of what's good for NATO," Taylor said. "And not what's good for their own countries." The Naval Science and Political Science departments sponsored the forum, which was held at the Graduate School of Education.

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