Woman hugging rescue worker who is wearing a helmet (© Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters)
Zübeyde Kahraman thanks a rescuer from Germany's International Search and Rescue as they search for her family in the aftermath of the February 6 earthquake in Türkiye. Her sister was pulled alive from the rubble on February 10. (© Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters)

Within 24 hours of the devastating February 6 earthquakes in Türkiye, more than 1,400 emergency response personnel from NATO allies and partners were on their way to help.

Working in coordination with Turkish authorities, allies have provided lifesaving assistance, including rescue teams, specialized equipment, medical supplies, logistical support and more.

Group of world leaders standing in large atrium, looking up at lighted sign that reads "NATO" (© NATO/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Leaders pose for a family photo at NATO headquarters in Brussels on June 14, 2021. (© NATO/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II, with the purpose of securing peace and security in Europe. More than 70 years later, it still does — and in ways you might not know.

Today, NATO protects more than 1 billion people in Europe and North America from 21st-century threats, from cybercrime to pandemics such as COVID-19.

NATO empowers all members to have an equal voice in decisions affecting the alliance. Here are some examples of the 30-member alliance in action.

Helping in times of need

Woman putting an Estonian flag sticker on pallets of boxes (© NATO)
Estonia delivered medical supplies to Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Ukraine, as part of multiple allied efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. (© NATO)

In response to COVID-19, NATO created a pandemic response trust fund composed of medical supplies and equipment.  Member nations:

  • Flew more than 350 flights [PDF, 592KB] to transport medical personnel.
  • Transported more than 1,000 metric tons of equipment.
  • Helped build nearly 100 field hospitals and over 25,000 treatment beds.
Graphic illustrating NATO’s climate, cybersecurity, public health and disaster response efforts (Graphic: State Dept./M. Gregory. Photos: © Thanassis Stavrakis/AP, © Jean-Francois Badias/AP and © Kamran Jebreili/AP. Image © Alexander Supertramp/Shutterstock.com)
(State Dept./M. Gregory)

By 2021, some 1,500 metric tons of medical supplies and equipment were transported to allied countries, including Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the Netherlands.

NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre delivered hundreds of ventilators, saving lives in Albania, the Czech Republic, Montenegro and North Macedonia. The alliance also delivered humanitarian relief packages to non-NATO members Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Moldova, Tunisia and Ukraine.

NATO also is preparing for climate change–related migration, the humanitarian consequences and the alliance’s role. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that between 2008 and 2016 an average of 21.5 million people were forcibly displaced each year by sudden onset weather-related hazards and thousands more from slow-onset hazards linked to climate change impacts.

Preventing hackers, protecting privacy

Man sitting at desk with multiple computer screens around him (© Yves Logghe/AP)
A computer expert operates at the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) technical center, at NATO’s military headquarters SHAPE in Mons, southwestern Belgium, in 2013. (© Yves Logghe/AP)

Authoritarian regimes and malicious actors target Western governments and businesses through cyber intrusions that steal personal information or cyberattacks that damage critical infrastructure, such as water distribution or hospitals.

Since 2016, NATO members have worked to counter cyberattacks by sharing information on potential threats with the European Union and other partners.

When Iranian government cyber actors hacked Albanian government networks in 2022, NATO was quick to condemn the action.

The NATO cyberdefense facility based in Estonia is dedicated to research and education, while NATO’s Cyberspace Operations Centre in Belgium works to deter and respond to cyberthreats.

“Today, there is no question: NATO is relevant, it is effective, and it is more needed now than ever,” President Biden said in 2022.