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Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Modern, dynamic and forceful. Those are perhaps the three adjectives that spring to mind when describing Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Having been a prime minister has greatly impacted on his management style.

One of his first priorities was the publication of a new Strategic Concept for the Alliance. He was hands-on when it came to the drafting of the document, stating that it should adopt the spirit of the treaty, i.e., be understood by an Oklahoma milkman. The novelty however lay in the process: he insisted on adopting an inclusive process where experts and the interested public started the thinking process before Allies were consulted and a final agreement reached. The aim was to build understanding and support across numerous constituencies and stakeholders. His general attitude towards NATO affairs was similar: he reinstated for instance the production of annual reports, with the difference that these reports were made available to the wider public – an opportunity to show the relevance of NATO and the scope and volume of its activities.

Fogh Rasmussen was the first Secretary General to use social media as a way to reach external audiences. His Facebook and Twitter accounts provided both NATO updates and personal ones such as his passion for running. When he was still Prime Minister, Denmark offered an additional TV and video capability to NATO and so what has become NATOChannel was born in 2008. He also established “The Secretary General’s blog” in video format on the NATO web site, where he gave his view on NATO matters and international security on a weekly basis.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen was the first Secretary General to use the media to strategically advance his political agenda and to inspire the thinking and decision making within the North Atlantic Council. He also gave high priority to international media and every Monday reserved a few hours for interviews in his office.

Work was fast-paced but Fogh Rasmussen also understood the need to relax so he introduced “casual Fridays” where his entourage could come to work without a tie. And being a Francophile, when events permitted, he would escape to his property in France. He stayed true to his origins by introducing sleek, minimalist Danish design into the Headquarters. He was also known to run every day, wherever he was and whatever the weather, and his security guards had to be as fit as him to be able to keep up!

Fogh Rasmussen had to deal with major security challenges such as Afghanistan, Libya and the NATO operation that ensued, as well as the Russian annexation of Crimea. But he did not lose sight of human issues. He established the position of Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security at NATO. He also helped to promote women in the workplace by appointing NATO’s first female spokesperson. Near the end of his mandate, former NATO Secretaries General Lord Robertson and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer were invited along with Fogh Rasmussen to a panel discussion on “NATO in transition” - a rare sight to see three NATO Secretaries General together - three that served the Alliance consecutively from 1999 to 2014.