In recent days NATO leaders have been refining points to be discussed at the upcoming summit.
President Obama met with NATO's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, on Wednesday. The White House reports the summit will reaffirm allied commitment to transitioning out of Afghanistan by 2014. That deadline came out of the last NATO summit in Lisbon.
Now topping the agenda for NATO members is how to leave a more stable and secure Afghanistan.
"How do we leave a country that's viable," said Khalil Marrar, DePaul University, Department of Political Science. "How do we leave a country that is fairly safe and how do we leave a country that does not produce the kind of attacks, the kind of terrorists that led to 911."
Marrar says the mission of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has gotten murky since its inception during the Cold War to defend against Soviet threats. He says how the alliance handles the transition with Afghanistan may mark a new way forward for the 60-year-old organization.
"The way that the world perceives NATO and the way that NATO is perceived as either credible or not credible will depend on this timeline, will depend on whether we have fulfilled the necessary requisites that will allow us to withdraw with honor," said Marrar.
NATO leadership maintains that the organization is a value with members pooling resources on defense.
As the economic crisis has taken a toll on many members, the summit attendees will also discuss how to adapt in a tighter global economy.
Two weeks ago, NATO's assistant secretary general, Kolinda Grabar, was in Chicago for a cultural exchange between Chicago and Afghani students. Ambassador Grabar said the summit will develop a plan for what they call smart defense.
"We will continue to take care that the economic crisis does not turn into a security crisis but that we combine our resources and make the best use of the money invested into defense," said Grabar.
In addition to the world leaders meeting in Chicago, the summit will also include a meeting of NATO non-members, considered partners, and those who aspire to become members.
There will also be a meeting of the leadership of the International Security Assistance Force, the joint military operation currently in Afghanistan.