As NATO allies prepare for Chicago Summit on May 20-21, the United States today announced President Obama’s three objectives of the upcoming event.
On his remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
at DC, Assistant Secretary Philip H. Gordon for Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs said the Chicago Summit will be the first NATO Summit on American soil in 13 years and the first ever outside of Washington.
In addition to the opportunity to showcase one of US’ great cities, US hosting of the Summit is a tangible symbol of the importance of NATO to the United States, Mr. Gordon stressed.
“It is also an opportunity to underscore to the American people the continued value of the Alliance to the security challenges we face today.” -Mr. Gordon
He notes that indeed, NATO is vital to U.S. security.
More than ever, Mr. Gordon says the Alliance is the mechanism through which the U.S. confronts diverse and difficult threats to our security together with like-minded states who share US fundamental values of democracy, human rights and rule of law.
US experiences in the Cold War, in the Balkans and now in Afghanistan prove that US core interests are better protected by working together than by seeking to respond to threats alone as individual nations, he added.
He says at NATO’s last summit in Lisbon nearly 18 months ago, Allies unveiled a new Strategic Concept that defines NATO’s focus in the 21st century.
“First and foremost, NATO remains committed to the Article 5 principle of collective defense.” -Mr. Gordon
He highlighted that the first and only time in the history of the Alliance that Article 5 was invoked was after terrorists attacked the United States on September 11th, 2001.
The very next day NATO invoked Article 5 in recognition of the principle that an attack against the U.S. represented an attack against all, he cited.
In addition to being a “collective “security alliance, Mr. Gordon emphasizes that NATO is also a “cooperative” security organization.
Unlike an ad hoc coalition, NATO can respond rapidly and achieve its military goals by sharing burdens, he added.
Likewise, NATO benefits from integrated structures and uses common funding to develop common capabilities, Mr. Gordon stated.
“It is in this context that Allies and partners will be meeting in Chicago next month.” -Mr. Gordon
Building on the decisions taken in Lisbon, the President has three objectives for the Chicago Summit, he noted.
Mr. Gordon underlines that the centerpiece will be the announcement of the next phase of transition in Afghanistan and a reaffirmation of NATO’s enduring commitment to the Afghan people.
Second, the United States will join Allies in a robust discussion of our most critical defense capability requirements in order to ensure that the security that NATO provides is both comprehensive and cost effective.
“And finally, we must continue our efforts to develop NATO’s role as a global hub for security partnerships.” -Mr. Gordon
On Afghanistan, Mr. Gordon cites that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition is comprised of 90,000 U.S. troops serving alongside 36,000 troops from NATO Allies and 5,300 from partner countries.
Mr. Gordon cites that ISAF has made significant progress in preventing the country from serving as a safe haven for terrorists and ensuring that Afghans are able to provide for their own security, both of which are necessary conditions to fulfill the President’s goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda.
Mr. Gordon announces that At Chicago, the U.S. anticipates three deliverables: an agreement on an interim milestone in 2013 when ISAF’s mission will shift from combat to support for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF); an agreement on the size, cost and sustainment of the ANSF beyond 2014; and a roadmap for NATO’s post-2014 role in Afghanistan.
He notes that in Chicago, leaders will establish a milestone in 2013 when ISAF’s mission will shift from combat to support as the ANSF becomes more responsible for security.
Throughout the transition period, ISAF forces including American forces will continue to be fully combat ready and will conduct combat operations as required, Mr. Gordon emphasized.
“The United States, Allies and partners remain fully committed to this Lisbon framework, as well as to the principle of “in together, out together”.” -Mr. Gordon
Mr. Gordon adds that these three summit priorities will define the next phase of the transition in Afghanistan, outlining a vision for addressing 21st century challenges in a period of austerity, and expanding partnerships that shows just how much NATO has evolved since its founding six decades ago.
The reasons for the Alliance’s continued success are clear: NATO has, over the last 63 years, proven to be an adaptable, durable, and cost-effective provider of security, Mr. Gordon stressed.
Mr. Gordon reiterates President Obama statement in the NATO Summit in Strasbourg-Kehl that states that the international community cannot be content to merely celebrate the achievements of the 20th century, or enjoy the comforts of the 21st century; countries must learn from the past to build on its success.
In Chicago, Mr. Gordon says the United States will work with its allies and partners to ensure that the Alliance remains vibrant and capable for many more years to come.
On March this year, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen met in Washington, DC with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon discussed a range of issues related to the upcoming Alliance summit scheduled for 20 – 21 May in Chicago.
The meeting was an opportunity to discuss policy issues related to the Chicago Summit and beyond with representatives of the host nation. The Secretary General also met with Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and with Senator Lindsey Graham from the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The summit will focus on the Alliance’s commitment to Aghanistan through transition and beyond, ensuring the Alliance has the capabilities it needs to defend its population and territory and to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening NATO’s unparallelled network of partners across the globe.
Since beginning its contribution to the mission in Afghanistan, NATO involvement has grown considerably. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force now has responsibility for the entire country, and consists of 36,000 personnel from 37 nations.