When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization first formed in 1949, the member countries were thinking more about combating Soviet military advances into western Europe than combating piracy off the coast of Somalia. But since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO troops have found themselves on missions throughout the world.
Below is a look at NATO operations beyond the alliance's original mission, according to the NATO website.
LOCATION: Off the coast of Somalia
DETAILS: Since 2008, NATO patrols have been helping deter and disrupt pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia and nearby waters. Pictured are Portugese troops boarding the boat of suspected pirates in 2009. [more information](AP Photo/ CPO Carlos Dias, NATO, Ho)
LOCATION: Mediterranean Sea
DETAILS: Evolving out of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., Operation Active Endeavour involves NATO ships patrolling and inspecting targeted ships to deter terrorist attacks. Pictured is the Turkish Frigate Gaziater patrolling off the north coast of Crete in 2005. [more information](AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
DETAILS: NATO supported the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Darfur between June 2005 and Dec. 2007. Pictured is a U.S. Air Force plane in 2005 carrying airmen to Rwanda to help the AU's mission with logistics and training. [more information](AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Master Sgt. David D. Underwood, Jr.)
DETAILS: Since 1999, NATO troops have provided support to "wider international efforts to build peace and stability in the area," according to the NATO website. Pictured are Austrian soldiers, part of the NATO-led peacekeeping force, arriving at Kosovo's military airport in Djakovica on April 27. [more information](AP Photo / Visar Kryeziu)
DETAILS: By far the largest mission is in Afghanistan, where tens of thousands have provided security, support, and training for the Afghan public and government. Pictured is a French soldier walking through the debris of a compound attacked by militants in Kabul on May 2. [more information](AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)