The accord establishing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) in 1949 provided the framework for the greatest
international mechanism ever in defense science and technology.
From its earliest days, NATO involvement in science and technology
has sought to build cooperation and promote security and
stability. Today, the central element of the NATO defense science
and technology program is the Research and Technology Organization
(RTO), which provides the best basis for collaboration
among the most technologically advanced countries in the world.
Through this body, alliance nations plan and execute activities
that cover the full spectrum of technologies vital to current and
RTO and its two predecessors, the Advisory Group for
Aerospace Research and Development and the Defense
Research Group, have a history of fostering long-term relationships
among senior executives, scientists, and engineers; sharing
information and research; and enhancing military capabilities.
There is no international activity that rivals RTO in scope,
magnitude, or potential. RTO can continue to build on these
successes by emphasizing longevity of its highly qualified members,
prioritizing areas of opportunity, integrating the seven
newest NATO invitees, and building a closer relationship with
Russia. This paper examines the origins of NATO defense science
and technology, provides an overview of the Research and
Technology Organization, and analyzes the elements that make
RTO successful. The paper concludes with recommendations for
enhancing RTO effectiveness in the 21st century.
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