Chicago’s NATO Summit

Chicago Summit logoThe North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 25th Summit took place in Chicago between May 20th and 21st.  Interest among Seattle’s military and international communities has been high, with special attention on the unique nature of the meeting: its location, number of participants, and accomplishments.

The event resulted in four key documents: the “Chicago Summit Declaration on Afghanistan,” the “Summit Declaration on Defense Capabilities: Toward NATO Forces 2020,” the “Deterrence and Defense Posture Review,” and “NATO’s Policy Guidelines on Counter-Terrorism.” The policy statements in these documents produced several decisions.

  • The first document, “Chicago Summit Declaration on Afghanistan,” examined the alliance’s policy towards Afghanistan. It confirmed the 2014 timeframe morphing NATO’s military operations, an active combat mission, into a supporting role.  Additionally, Brussels agreed to continue aiding the country’s political, economic, and social transitions.
  • The second document, “Summit Declaration on Defense Capabilities: Toward NATO Forces 2020,” focused on the organization’s non-Afghanistan related military issues. It reaffirmed Brussels’ commitment to enhancing better interoperability among its members’ armed forces. The paper emphasized the need for improving defensive burden sharing within the Alliances’ ranks.  It also called on expanding military ties with the European Union.
  • The third document, “Deterrence and Defense Posture Review,” defined strategic threats that were of most concern to Brussels. These included dangers to energy security, weak and failed or failing states, the growing capabilities of non-state actors, the proliferation of ballistic missiles, and weapons of mass destruction, piracy, and terrorism.  It also explored NATO’s nuclear, conventional, and arms control/non-proliferation responses to these issues – one of the responses included the activation of an interim missile defense system.
  • The last document, “NATO’s Policy Guidelines on Counter-Terrorism,” examined the organization’s counter and anti-terrorism policies.The paper confirmed and introduced new guidelines for NATO’s response to terrorism.  It also explored Brussels’ approach towards awareness, capabilities, and engagement matters. An underlying theme throughout the document was NATO’s interest in working within its member states, allies, the UN, EU, and OSCE towards enhancing, augmenting, and avoiding duplication on the issues mentioned.

NATO’s Chicago Summit was noteworthy from several historic and strategic angles.  Most of the organization’s summits have been held in their member countries’ capitals. This summit was the first time NATO convened a U.S.-based conference outside of Washington, D.C.  The meeting was also unique considering the number of countries that participated and the breadth of the issues that were covered.  The event included delegations from over sixty nations, many of whom were non-NATO countries, such as Russia, Japan, Morocco, Qatar, and Australia; three international organizations – the European Union, United Nations, and World Bank – also participated.  Issues ranged from NATO’s status in Afghanistan to enhancing operational capabilities among its members and allies.

Blog post by Matthew Kennedy