Clearing up the Ground Rules:

The upcoming NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, will serve as a forum for many issues critical to the future of the Cold War-era alliance, a senior State Department official told defense reporters Tuesday morning. Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, said that, despite differences over policy among the member states, the alliance has changed significantly since it first invoked Article 5 of its charter in response to the September 2001 terror attacks. He said the alliance has made great strides on the battlefield and is developing a more expeditionary military posture with joint lift assets such as C-17s. Fried acknowledged, though, there is some concern because only a few allies—namely Canada and Netherlands—are doing most of the “heavy lifting” in Afghanistan operations. Many other countries have contributed forces to the International Security Assistance Force with “caveats” that restrict the troops from direct combat roles. National caveats prevent NATO commanders from being able to move and manage forces in the country to the best of their ability, he explained. “[Member nations] have to know we have their backs,” Fried said.