Since its establishment in 1949, NATO has been the cornerstone of Norwegian security and defence policy.

During the Cold War, collective defence under Article 5 of the Treaty was the primary function of the Alliance – as a response to Soviet and Warsaw Pact military postures. With the end of the Cold War in 1989, NATO began restructuring itself towards the conduct of peace support operations and other forms of crisis management operations in the Balkans, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. The ISAF operation (2003–2014) in Afghanistan became the biggest ever, and included numerous non-NATO partner countries. Following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and engagement in Ukraine in 2014, NATO has renewed its emphasis on collective defence. However, the organization is struggling internally after years of massive defence cuts in Europe, leaving the USA to carry over 70% of the total budget. Research at NUPI follows developments in NATO as well as in various member states, among them the USA, France and Poland.