The seminar, which brought together policy-makers with representatives from think-tanks, academia and industry, was opened by the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Stéphane Abrial, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Dr Jim Miller, US Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
The NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen addressed the opening session of the seminar, noting that the Alliance will need to focus on how to sustain the operations of today and face the security challenges of tomorrow.
“We cannot tell how long this economic turmoil will last”, the Secretary General said. “But its consequences will be with us for a long time to come. And in good times and bad, NATO has been the best investment Allies have made. For over sixty years, it has successfully delivered security and stability. That’s why we need to continue investing in it – militarily, politically, and financially. So that, by the end of this decade and into the next, we emerge stronger as an Alliance, not weaker”.
The Secretary General stressed that at the Summit in Chicago Allies will need to commit to long-term goals for the capabilities that the Alliance needs.
“I expect them to back up that vision with concrete projects. So that, in a fast-changing world, we can do better with what we have. And stay lean, but strong. That is our Chicago challenge: to lay the foundations of the NATO of the future – towards 2020 and beyond”, he said.
During the meeting, the Secretary General highlighted that Afghanistan remains NATO's top operational priority and noted that recent days have been challenging for commanders, for service men and women and for Allies and ISAF partners.
“I deplore the violence we have seen during the last week. But across the country, ISAF troops are showing great restraint and professionalism. And Afghan security forces have shown considerable courage in their efforts to minimise the violence”, he said. “We will not allow the extremists to weaken our resolve. We will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Afghan partners. And we will not lose sight of our shared goal. We are in Afghanistan to build stability and security for the Afghan people – which is in the interest of our own security. That is our commitment, and it remains unchanged.”
Later on Tuesday the Secretary General also addressed a town hall discussion with students at the National Defence University.