By Jackie Dent for CNN
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The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is made up of 26 countries from Europe and North America.
Member states are committed to the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in 1949. The aim of the treaty is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries by political and military means.
Who is in charge of NATO?
The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the most important decision-making body within NATO. It is made up of representatives of the Allies, including ambassadors, ministers, and heads of state and government. There is no voting or decision by majority.
Does NATO have its own army?
NATO is made up of troops and assets "donated" by member countries for various operations.
What is NATO doing at the moment?
NATO is currently involved in a range of missions throughout the world.
Their largest operation is in Afghanistan, where troops from 37 countries are involved, including 26 NATO allies and 11 partners.
Provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) are undertaking various development projects.
NATO has military headquarters in Bosnia and Herzegovina and provides support to a European-led operation in the country. (Full story)
At the request of the African Union (AU), NATO provides support in the region of Darfur, Sudan. NATO forces train AU forces and providing airlift for AU peacekeepers.
National flags of NATO member countries at the 2006 summit in Riga, Latvia.
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