NATO’s Defense Ministerial meeting is set to take place in Brussels Thursday and Friday this week. The anticipated drawdown of the International Security Assistance Force from Afghanistan in 2014 and the continued unrest in Syria and Mali are expected to dominate the agenda.
On Monday, President Obama announced the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel for the position of U.S. Secretary of Defense. Hagel previously served two six-year terms in the Senate, as the Republican representative for Nebraska from 1997-2009.
The U.S. Senate passed its long-awaited defense bill on December 4th, authorizing a billion budget for defense spending in FY 2013. During the coming week, the “conference committee” will be tasked with reconciling this bill with the House version. This process is taking place against the backdrop of intense debates over the looming “fiscal cliff”: the across-the-board cuts which threaten to come into effect if a deal on public spending is not agreed by January 1.