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Western Union Defence Organization (WUDO)
Active 28 September 1948 – 20 December 1951[1]
Allegiance Western Union (WU)
Size Multi-lateral Military Command
Garrison/HQ Fontainebleau, France
Engagements Cold War (1947–1953)
Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, British Army

The Western Union Defence Organization (WUDO) was the defence arm of the Western Union, the precursor to the Western European Union (WEU). The WUDO was also a precursor to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and its headquarters, personnel, and plans provided the nucleus for NATO's military command structure. Following the standing up of NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, the WUDO was disestablished after three years of existence.


The Treaty of Brussels was signed on 17 March 1948 between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and was an expansion to the preceding year's defence pledge, the Dunkirk Treaty signed between Britain and France. The Treaty of Brussels contained a mutual defence clause as set forth in Article IV:

If any of the High Contracting Parties should be the object of an armed attack in Europe, the other High Contracting Parties will, in accordance with the provisions of Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, afford the Party so attacked all the military and other aid and assistance in their power.[2]

Article V set forth the obligations of Brussels Pact members to cooperate with the United Nations Security Council to maintain international peace and security, and Article VI set forth the obligations of Brussels Pact members to not enter any third-party treaties that conflicted with the Treaty of Brussels.[2] Beginning in April, the parties to the Brussels Pact decided to create a military agency under the name of the Western Union Defence Organization. The WUDO was formally established on September 27–28, 1948.[3][4][5]

Command structure[]

WUDO consisted of a Western Union (WU) Defence Committee at the Prime Ministerial level, and a WU Combined Chiefs of Staff committee, comprising the national military chiefs of staff, which would direct the operational organization.[3][6] Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, British Army, was the WUDO's senior officer as Chairman of the Commanders-in-Chief Committee which was created on 5 October 1948.[7][8][9] Other nominated members of the Commanders-in-Chief Committee included:[6][7][10]

The overall command structure was patterned after the wartime Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), which included a joint planning staff.[3] The WU Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee included observers from the United States. This American liaison mission was initially led by Major General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, U.S. Army, and subsequently by Major General A. Franklin Kibler, USA.[9]


Exercise Verity was a WUDO naval training exercise involving 60 warships from the British, French, and Dutch navies held in the Bay of Biscay during July 1949.[11] The exercise was under the overall command of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Rhoderick McGrigor, RN, the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet.[11][12] The 60-ship flotilla included the British battleship Anson; the British carriers Implacable, Victorious and Theseus; and the French carrier Arromanches.[11] Admiral McGrigor summarized the accomplishments of Exercise Verity by noting:

The object of these manoeuvres is to show that we are willing and able to work together in case of aggression. I can say straight away that it's been a very great success.[11]

Following Exercise Verity, WUDO announced that a major ground military exercise was scheduled for Fall 1949 under overall command of Général d'Armée Jean de Lattre de Tassigny.[11][Note 1]


When the division of Europe into two opposing camps became unavoidable, the threat of the USSR became much more important than concerns over German rearmament. Western European governments sought a new mutual defence pact involving the United States. The United States recognized the growing threat of the USSR and was responsive to this concept. Secret meetings began by the end of March 1949 between American, Canadian and British officials to negotiate such a trans-Atlantic mutual defence pact. Eventually, it would lead to the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) with the North Atlantic Treaty signed in Washington, DC, in 1949. NATO began setting up its own military command structure in 1951, at which time the headquarters, personnel, and plans of the WUDO were transferred to Supreme Headquarters Allied Power Europe (SHAPE), and SHAPE took over responsibility for the defence of Western Europe.[4][7][10][13]

See also[]


  1. There is not documentary evidence that this ground military exercise ever took place.
  1. "Multinational Commands". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Treaty of Brussels". European Navigator. 17 March 1948. Retrieved 2020-11-27. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Maloney, Sean M. (1995). Secure Command of the Sea: NATO Command Organization and Planning for the Cold War at Sea, 1945-1954. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 66–67. ISBN 1-55750-562-4. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Duke, Simon (2000). The elusive quest for European security: from EDC to CFSP. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 13–14. ISBN 978-0-312-22402-8. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  5. Cichock, Mark A. (1977). "Chronology of Major European Events, 1815-1985". University of Texas at Arlington. Retrieved 2010-11-27. "Compiled by Dr. James A. Kuhlman, University of South Carolina, 1977; edited by Dr. Mark A. Cichock, University of Texas at Arlington." 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Lord Ismay (December 6, 2001 (last update)). "Origins of the North Atlantic Treaty: The Brussels Treaty". NATO: The First Five Years. NATO. Retrieved 2010-08-09. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "Did you know that Europe already had a defensive military alliance prior to NATO?". Allied Command Operations (ACO). NATO. 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  8. *Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A biographical guide to the key British generals of World War II. Stroud (UK): Spellmount. pp. 309. ISBN 978-1-86227-431-0. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Barlow, Jeffrey G. (2009). From Hot War to Cold: the U.S. Navy and National Security Affairs, 1945–1955. Palo Alto, California: Stanford University Press. p. 209. ISBN 8047-5666-2. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Kaplan, Lawrence S.. NATO 1948: the birth of the transatlantic Alliance. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.. pp. 139–165. ISBN 0-7425-3917-2.^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=0742539172. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 "WESTERN UNION: Exercise Verity". TIME. 1 July 1949.,9171,794817,00.html. Retrieved 2010-08-06. 
  12. Heathcote, Thomas Anthony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 - 1995, A Biographical Dictionary. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Ltd.. p. 162. ISBN 0-85052-835-6. Retrieved 2010-08-08. 
  13. "Brussels Treaty Organisation (Resolution)". Hansard. London: House of Commons of the United Kingdom. 18 February 1957. cc19-20W. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 

External links[]

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