NATO starts its two-day summit in Wales on Thursday. Here are five things to know about what's being called "one of the most important summits in the history of [the] alliance."
First, NATO's critics say it's been losing relevancy since the end of the Cold War and after peace settled in Europe. (Video via NATO)
And after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, The New Yorker called it a "reluctant ally of the United States," which led to disagreements and divisions within the organization.
To save the group from irrelevancy, the outlet says NATO needed a new purpose. And the second thing you need to know just so happens to be that purpose.
NATO is expected to find its mission once again through the conflict in Ukraine.
According to The Washington Post, member nations will look for ways to provide assistance without inciting war with Russia. One analyst told The Post NATO will "reassure allies in Eastern Europe that fear they could be next in Russia's crosshairs."
One component of that is likely a 4,000-strong force NATO could quickly deploy.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN: "We're going to hear a lot more about pre-positioning of equipment in bases closer to Russia and Poland and the Baltic states. A rotation, a persistent rotation of troops, a rapid-reaction force of troops available."
Third, there are other items on the summit agenda. NATO will discuss its plans to continue to draw out troops in Afghanistan. CNN says NATO forces will provide training and advisement instead of leading the troops.
Euronews reports NATO had also planned to hand over security in Afghanistan, but presidential election uncertainty within the country is bringing that plan to a halt.
Fourth, President Barack Obama will call for military action against the Islamic State group, formerly known as ISIS. (Video via The White House)
Fox News reports both President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron will "press for a multi-national coalition" at the NATO summit.
Which basically means that the U.S. and U.K. will push other countries to get involved in military action against the militant group.
That's likely in response to the beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. And one British aid worker was also threatened by the group.
Lastly, NATO members are expected to discuss defense budgets. Nations commit to spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense budgets, but not everyone has met that commitment. (Video via NATO)
According to Los Angeles Times, only Estonia, Greece, Britain, and the U.S. met the 2 percent goal. However, facing a major threat with ISIS and the Ukrainian crisis, member nations are expected to promise to meet the target budget.
This video includes images from Getty Images.