Less than a year ago President Trump spoke at the NATO Summit about the importance of allied nations meeting the pledge made at the Wales Summit and commit to sharing the costs of maintaining the largest and most successful alliance in history in a responsible and fair way. NATO has demonstrated time and again its ability to respond quickly, effectively, and efficiently to defend its members against any type of threat and to meet challenges like violent extremism emerging outside the Euro-Atlantic region.
Seven months later, I had the chance to help organize a Foreign Press Center (FPC) international reporting tour on "The Importance of Meeting Pledge on Defense Investment (PDI) Commitments for NATO Collective Defense. Our audience: 15 of the most influential and experienced television, radio, and print journalists from 12 NATO countries. Our mission: Give them access to people, sites, and experiences that not only show them the continued commitment of the United States to European defense, but also to expose them, in a quantitative and logical way, to the value of a united alliance in which the cost of defending its members is equitably shared.
These are questions that are personal to me, and to the many other spouses of active members of our Armed Forces: what does it mean for us to have our family members put their lives on the line to defend faraway countries and people we've never met?
The tour began in Brussels, where journalists met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and officials from the U.S. Mission to NATO. It continued in Washington, with visits and roundtables at the State Department, the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River. We gave the tour history and color with cultural programs such as the visit to the WWII memorial and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center exhibits museum.
Nothing brought home the messages of the tour more clearly than when the journalists visited the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team in Ft. Hood, Texas, who are in full preparation for their upcoming deployment this summer in support of the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI). The journalists had the chance to see our soldiers as people, the American men and women who voluntarily choose to serve in defense of their country and of our Allied partners in Europe. In addition to explaining their training and equipment, the Brigade showed that America's commitment to European defense is built on the courage and sacrifice of these service people and of their families.
The result: Well-founded reporting from the journalists demonstrating that they had understood what our commitment to NATO means, and that their countries needed to make further investments in their defense.
Personally I found the answer I was looking for: NATO matters because a safe and stable Europe is important to America, because for every two American soldiers deployed out there in most of our missions, one allied NATO soldiers walks next to them and because together we can better respond to the challenges we all face today.
About the Author: Veronica Hall serves as a Foreign Press Center Program Officer for the Department of Defense Liaison.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium .com.