About the Author: Kurt Volker serves as U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO.
President Obama scored a huge success at his first NATO Summit -- a strong sense of transatlantic unity, a common strategy and some significant new contributions on Afghanistan, two new NATO Members, France reintegrating into NATO military structures for the first time since the 1960's, and the decision to write a new NATO strategic concept to focus NATO on the security threats of the future. NATO even picked a new Secretary General -- pretty big stuff.
Getting these kinds of results is the culmination of months of diplomatic efforts -- building trust and consensus with Allies, identifying key challenges (such as training Afghan security forces), pinpointing political obstacles and figuring out how to remove them, working with military and colleagues in NATO's military headquarters and in Afghanistan, and building public support around Europe.
We had teams of people:
• A three-embassy logistics team to put together a massive Summit meeting held by NATO, taking place in both Germany and France.
• A strong interagency team of Washington officials from the State Department, Pentagon, and National Security Council.
• A team of military, DoD civilian, and Foreign Service officers, all with experience in Afghanistan, working out of the U.S. Mission and putting the diplomatic, military, and policy pieces together.
• A team of public diplomacy experts identifying our key messages and using a variety of means -- from videos to blogs to TV, radio, and print interviews to even getting the original NATO Treaty out of the National Archives and across the Atlantic -- to reach out to a wide public audience.
In the days prior to the Summit, we worked country-by-country to nail down contributions of military training teams for the Afghan National Army. And on the day of the Summit itself, there was tremendous anticipation as leaders reached consensus on the selection of NATO's next Secretary General.
Senior officials were called into a side room to strike an agreement on missile defense, while elsewhere diplomats hammered out the final points that sealed the deal on French reintegration.
The public image of a summit often masks an enormous amount of work and productivity that lead to the kind of results we saw in Strasbourg and Kehl.
Read Ambassador Volker's previous entry about the NATO Ministerial in Brussels.