NATO Summit Preview: Afghanistan, Partnerships and Capabilities to Be Summit's Focus

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NATO logoBy Ryann Rumbaugh
The Red Line Project

Posted: Saturday, May 19, 2012

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen kicked off the NATO summit weekend by addressing attendees of the Young Atlanticist Summit.

Before taking questions from the attendees, Rasmussen presented the key issues that will be up for debate at the summit in his first on-the-record Chicago event of the weekend.

First on his list: Afghanistan.

According to Rasmussen, NATO’s goal is to make sure that Afghanistan will never again be a safe haven for terrorists who used the country to plan attacks like 9/11.

 “We are making good progress toward that goal,” he said. “With our help, Afghan forces are already in the lead for providing security for half the country’s population. And they are growing more capable and confident day by day.” 

Rasmussen ensured that although Afghans are expected to be fully in charge of their own security by the end of 2014, it will not end NATO’s commitment.

“We will lay out how we will continue to support Afghanistan, and its people, beyond that date,” he said. “We expect to have a new mission, to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces so they remain strong in the years to come.”

Second on his list: NATO capabilities.

Rasmussen described the vision that he calls “NATO Forces 2020,” which encompasses military forces that are strong, cooperative, and able to cope with a full range of security challenges.

The only problem with this vision is the slashing of defense budgets across the Alliance.  Rasmussen presented a solution called “Smart Defence”.

“By adopting a new approach – the Smart Defence approach – we can do better with what we have,” he said. “This means setting clear priorities for what we should spend our defense dollars and euros on. It means specializing in what nations do best. And it means working more closely together to provide capabilities that no single nation can afford.”

By working together, nations make individual contributions and NATO brings it all together into a single defense system. This will increase the level of protection for nations at a more affordable rate.

Last on his list: NATO partnership.

The 2012 NATO summit is the largest in NATO’s history -- about 60 countries and organizations are represented.

The basic purpose: finding common solutions to common challenges.

According to Rasmussen, threats know no borders and respect no country’s sovereignty. At this weekend’s summit, NATO will work to strengthen ties with its partners.

“Twenty-two partners have joined our 28 Allies in helping to bring stability to Afghanistan,” he said. “In Kosovo, eight partners are helping NATO to preserve peace. And partners from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa provided essential political and operational support for our operation in Libya last year.” 

Rasmussen stressed the importance of NATO partnership in the most basic terms: NATO offers the ultimate value and security for money. 

“NATO remains unmatched in its ability to deter any potential military threat, and to deploy forces to manage crises,” Rasmussen said.

“By standing together, all Allies can get more security than by going it alone,” he said.

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