However, look for more details to come out on Pakistan agreeing to more military operations in the border area.
Missile defense, Moscow takes offense
Outside of Afghan talks, the other hot topic will be the continued push to build up missile defense systems around Europe to protect from a ballistic missile attack from Iran, something Russia is vehemently opposed to.
U.S. officials have already said they do not expect a deal with Moscow this year, and Moscow is still pushing for an agreement by NATO that ensures the missile system would not be used against its missiles, something the United States and NATO will not do.
If NATO announces the placement of more systems around Europe, look for a blistering response from Moscow, which is already threatening arming its borders to counter, what it perceives as, a threat to its nuclear missile deterrent.
While NATO has said there will be no Libya-style intervention in Syria because there is no legal authority, expect some conversations about Syria to take place even though it is not officially on the agenda.
Because Turkey is part of NATO, and it has some legitimate concerns along its border with Syria, Turkey could start to put heavy pressure on the alliance to make some kind of move. It is a long shot, but look to see if there are discussions on whether a NATO force could be created to protect safe havens along the Turkey-Syrian border.
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New French President Francois Hollande: The new socialist leader will be attending his first head-of-state NATO conference just days into his job. Early thoughts, based on what he has said as a candidate, could be that he will remove French troops from Afghanistan earlier than his predecessor was planning -- as early as the end of this year, not in 2013.
It is not clear if he will go through with that plan, but it is worth keeping an eye on him to see how he builds his new NATO relationships, or not -- especially if he announces while in Chicago that he is pulling his troops early.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari: While it has already been announced by the White House that Obama and Zardari will not meet in the Chicago summit if the Pakistani leader shows up, that does not mean Zardari will be sidelined. He knows that NATO members, especially the United States, will tread lightly in public so as to not irritate the Afghan neighbor, especially if the Pakistani government is still deliberating whether to open the crucial NATO supply lines.
Zardari could also take advantage of the United States stepping on diplomatic eggshells and make some public demands on NATO and the United States. But he has to show up to do that.
Russian President Vladimir Putin: Some analysts believe that Putin is not sincere in his saying he decided not to attend the Chicago summit because he has to assemble a new government, especially as the new French leader will come days after his first day on the job.
The real excuses could be that as the key to al-Assad's ouster, he does not want to face tough issues on Syria, and that he does not have much assistance to offer the West on Iran. He will be leaving that job to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who will be attending in his stead.
But expect the stone-faced but fiery leader to blast NATO from afar on its European missile defense program, which he believes is threatening his country's nuclear deterrent.
U.S. Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan: Allen, who has overseen the transition from counterinsurgency operations to the new train-and-equip strategy in Afghanistan, has also voiced concern about withdrawing troops too quickly over the final two years.
But Allen could be getting a promotion. U.S. officials tell CNN the president is expected to nominate Allen in early 2013 to lead U.S. European Command and to be the supreme allied commander of NATO.
An announcement could be made as early as in Chicago that Allen will be moved from his Kabul post. The move would keep Allen involved in Afghanistan, through NATO, but make room for a commander more suited to the shift to counterterrorism and special operations.
Allen also gets to have some fun. He's scheduled to throw a ceremonial pitch at a Chicago Cubs home game during the summit.