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American Forces Press Service

NATO Military Leaders Meet in Brussels

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, April 25, 2012 – Military leaders from NATO and partner nations discussed the present and future of the effort in Afghanistan and other topics during the first day of a conference at NATO headquarters here today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is participating in the conference on behalf of the United States, along with representatives from about 50 NATO member or partner nations.

A senior official, speaking on background, told American Forces Press Service that the meetings produced good dialogue and reflected that the partnership is strong.

“NATO is such a strong alliance, and we build on that in forums like this,” the senior official said. “This is the opportunity for NATO and the [chiefs of defense] to get together and discuss current operations -- all the involvement we have in various activities and operations, current and ongoing -- and ways to strengthen the partnership.”

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, met with the defense chiefs via teleconference for part of the day. Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, also was on hand.

“It was good for the commander, General Allen, to be able to speak to all the [chiefs of defense] and offer his perspective, his on-the-scene assessment, of what he is seeing on a day-to-day basis, because he’s the commander on the ground,” the senior official said. The forum gave the defense chiefs from NATO members and the contributing nations a chance to establish a common baseline, have good discussions and ask questions, he added.

“Just to have that wealth of information from those key leaders was a valuable opportunity, and I think it was a very good dialogue,” he said. “It was a good exchange of ideas and information.”

Every opportunity for NATO members and their partners to work together helps to keep the alliance moving forward, the senior official said, especially as they seek to improve interoperability, refine tactics and procedures, and become more efficient in today’s tight fiscal environment. And the United States is committed to the alliance, he added.

“NATO remains a very strong partnership -- as strong as ever -- and we have a lot of demonstrated successes with NATO if you look at the history up through today and current events, and especially in the last year,” he said. “So I think that bodes well for the future of the partnership. The United States involvement in NATO is a strong partnership for tackling any future challenges.”

The defense chiefs also met today with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and had sessions pertaining to NATO partners Georgia and Ukraine and the NATO-Russia Council. Tomorrow, they’re scheduled to discuss lessons learned from Operation Unified Protector in Libya, Pacific perspectives and NATO’s upcoming summit in Chicago.

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