For NATO, 2017 will be a year of action. At the NATO Summit in Warsaw last July, our leaders agreed on the next steps for strengthening our deterrence and defense capabilities, and to project stability beyond our borders.

In the spring, four multinational battalions will deploy to Poland and the Baltic States. These will be led by the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany. NATO will also have a strengthened presence in the Black Sea region, with a Romanian-led multinational brigade. Together, and supported by reinforcements and national forces, they will present a strong signal to any potential aggressor: that an attack on any ally will be met by a response from all allies. At the same time, we are keeping open channels of political dialogue with Russia, because dialogue is even more important in times of tension.

Outlook 2017: Perspectives from global thought leaders

In the south, NATO is supporting its partners to project stability in the region. NATO has already trained hundreds of Iraqi officers to better fight the Islamic State group. This program will be significantly expanded in the new year. Every ally is already a part the US-led mission to counter ISIS, and NATO AWACS surveillance aircraft are now providing vital support for the coalition's air campaign.

Close cooperation between NATO and the European Union is also vital for our security. In Warsaw, I signed a joint declaration with President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, which committed both organizations to a new level of cooperation. This year, we will increase our partnership with the EU in areas such as countering hybrid warfare, cyber defense, exercises and supporting the defense industry.

NATO and the EU are already working together in the Aegean Sea to cut the lines of illegal migration. Sea Guardian, NATO's new maritime operation in the Mediterranean Sea, is engaged in surveillance, counterterrorism and capacity-building for our partners in the region. It will also share information with the EU's Operation Sophia and provide it with logistical support. By combining our different skills and strengths, NATO and the EU are a formidable force for good.

Strengthening our defense and promoting stability does not come for free. US President Barack Obama, US President-elect Donald Trump, and every federal senator and congressman I have met on Capitol Hill have rightly called on European allies to take a more equitable share of the burden. Delivering on higher defense spending has been one of my top priorities since I took office in 2014. And when I spoke to Trump, I stressed that we have now started to move in the right direction.

In 2014, every NATO ally pledged to increase defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product over a decade. In 2015, defense cuts in European allies and Canada stopped. And this year, we expect their defense spending will increase in real terms by 3 percent.

But we still have a long way to go. If all European allies and Canada were to meet the 2 percent spending target, that would mean an extra 100 billion dollars — roughly the combined defense spending of Europe's two largest defense spenders, the United Kingdom and France, every year.

NATO has responded to the new security environment with determination. I look forward to welcoming Trump for our next summit in Brussels this year to discuss how NATO must continue to adapt.

In uncertain times, we need strong American leadership, and we need Europeans to share their fair share of the burden. Above all, we need to recognize the value of the partnership between America and Europe on which NATO is founded.

Jens Stoltenberg has served as the NATO secretary general since 2014. Before that, he was the prime minister of Norway. Under his leadership, the country's defense spending increased, and today Norway is one of the NATO members with the highest per capita defense expenditure.

More In Outlook