French Partial Withdrawal from NATOFrance
NATO's unity was breached early in its history with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle's presidency of France. De Gaulle protested the strong role of the United States in NATO and what he perceived as a special relationship between it and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to US President Dwight Eisenhower and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate, which would put France on an equal footing with the US and the UK.
Considering the response to be unsatisfactory, de Gaulle began constructing an independent defense force for his country. He wanted to give France, in the event of an East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc, instead of being drawn into a larger war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. In February 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean Fleet from NATO command, and it later banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons on French soil. That caused the United States to transfer 300 military aircraft out of France and to return control of the air force bases that it had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967.