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In 1953 the United States ratified the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Status of Forces Agreement of 1951 (SOFA), which set forth "conditions and terms which will control the status of forces sent by one state, party to the Agreement, into the territory of another state, party to the Agreement." The drafters foresaw that the presence and training of foreign military forces within and between their territories would probably, if not inevitably, cause injury to civilians, giving rise to claims that, if not settled quickly and satisfactorily, could spark incidents disruptive to their cooperation in mutual defense. To this end, the SOFA established a jurisdictional regime designed to minimize the political friction these incidents threatened to generate, by providing prompt and manifestly fair settlement procedures. The SOFA's jurisdictional framework protects nationals of a foreign military force from the criminal processes of the alien jurisdiction in which they reside and train, yet permits injured citizens of the host state to pursue civil damages for the tortious acts of foreign forces without fear that their claims might receive prejudicial treatment in the foreign state's local courts.

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