Illinois National Guard providing 'support' for NATO summit

April 19, 2012 4:58:46 AM PDT
In Illinois and overseas, preparations are moving ahead for the NATO summit in Chicago next month. Those preparations include the Illinois National Guard and the U.S. Secretary of State.

The arrival of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Brussels Wednesday signals the start of meetings critical to the NATO summit.

Over the next two days, Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will work with other NATO alliance defense ministers to streamline the issues and possible solutions to be addresses at the summit. The meeting at NATO headquarters is known as the jumbo ministerial.

"Together, with the Afghan foreign and defense ministers, we will pave the way for our summit in Chicago," said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Foremost in the discussion: Afghanistan. Transitioning security to Afghan authority comes as more challenges arise -- like this weekend's attacks in Kabul and eastern Afghanistan.

Despite recent incidents, NATO allies says they are committed to the 2014 deadline for withdrawal and support after 2014.

"We will decide what our new mission will look like and how it will work to support Afghanistan so that it does not become a safe haven for terrorists ever again," said Rasmussen.

When in Chicago for the summit at McCormick Place, NATO delegates can expect Illinois National Guardsmen to provide transportation details.

"The Illinois National Guard was asked as a part of the DOD," said Illinois National Guard Captain Dustin Cammack. "We were asked to provide transportation and ceremonial support for this event."

A public affairs officer for the National Guard tells ABC 7 the guardsmen will be in their business casual dress and will be unarmed.

"We are not in any kind of security role or law enforcement role. That will be handled by Chicago PD and the US Secret Service," Cammack said. "We are just here merely to facilitate transportation, ceremonial-type of events."

There will be a National Guard training exercise the same weekend as the NATO summit. The guardsmen have not been tapped for crowd control, but hundreds of guardsmen will be nearby if needed.