On October 28, the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), in partnership with NATO, hosted Jens Stoltenberg, newly appointed NATO secretary general, to deliver his first policy address on the future of the Alliance. Dr. Karen Donfried, president of GMF, moderated the event.
Echoing the decisions made at the Wales Summit in September, Stoltenberg emphasized the necessity of keeping NATO strong. The complex strategic landscapes at NATO’s Eastern and Southern borders have made it extremely important to uphold NATO’s identity as an impactful political and military organization. Along those lines, preserving and strengthening collective defense by preventing further cuts to the national defense budgets of NATO allies and enacting the recently agreed upon Readiness Action Plan will remain a priority within the NATO agenda.
Stoltenberg concluded that the following decade will be a critical time for NATO and its partners. The Alliance will be faced with a number of challenges developing beyond its borders, ranging from conflict and instability fueled by extremism in North Africa and the Middle East, to the threat of Russian expansionism in the East, to emerging challenges such as cyber-attacks and energy security. To effectively address these issues, NATO leadership will need to focus on further solidifying cooperation amongst its allies and build upon its partnerships with international, regional and local organizations that operate within targeted conflict regions. Stoltenberg also firmly affirmed his resolve to work closely with North American and European Union leadership in ensuring that transatlantic bonds remain solid and able to address the challenges that lie ahead.