The Concept is an official document that outlines NATO's enduring purpose and nature and its fundamental security tasks. It also sets out the key features of the changed security environment, specifies the elements of the Alliance's approach to security and provides guidelines for the further adaptation of its military forces. Last revised in 1999, the current version predates the attacks on the USA on 09/11, the mission in Afghanistan and the ascension of 9 new member states.
The Secretary General convened the broad-based GoE to facilitate the process after the Strasbourg-Kehl Summit in April where NATO leaders endorsed the "Declaration on Alliance Security”: which, inter alia, called for a new Strategic Concept.
The GoE work is in two phases. In the first, reflection phase, the GoE will hold seminars in four NATO countries each devoted to different topics of relevance to the new Strategic Concept. During the second, consultation phase, the GoE will travel to each NATO capital to present their thinking directly to governments with a view to receiving initial comment and feedback.
The Secretary General will then take the process forward and, on the basis of national reactions and political guidance, will prepare the first draft of the new Strategic Concept for negotiation during the late summer and autumn 2010 with approval sought at the next NATO Summit.
The GoE represents a broad spectrum of large and small NATO members and offers a balanced combination of insiders and outsiders, including from the private sector, think tanks and the academic community. Dr. Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, chairs the group with Mr. Jeroen van der Veer, former CEO in Royal Dutch Shell, as vice-chair.