On February 14 a high ranking NATO source, cited by Bloomberg, warned that NATO members were preparing plans for the alliance to involve itself in multiple conflicts simultaneously – including conflicts beyond its traditional areas of responsibility. During meetings in Brussels on February 14-15 NATO Defence Ministers will sign a classified guidebook containing plans of action for “high intensity” conflicts and conflicts “beyond the area of responsibility” of the alliance, which will include requirements for NATO members’ military investments. Members will additionally be directed to redirect investments to the sectors seen as most important for collective security – whether it be tank forces or missile defences – to strengthen the military bloc’s collective warfighting capabilities. The report comes as NATO members have not only increasingly involved themselves in the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian War, whether by dispatching hundreds of Marines to the battlefield as in Britain’s case, or providing even larger personnel contributions through private military contractor groups as was done by Poland among others. As Western intervention in the conflict has continued to increase, NATO members have also expanded their military footprints in the East Asia aimed at China – most recently in the form of aerial warfare drills involving the U.S., Britain and Australia.
Growing numbers of NATO members have referred to China as a security challenge in recent years, and as its rising military, economic and technological prowess threaten the centuries old world order based on Western primacy growing numbers have labelled it the leading threat. As by far the largest and most advanced economy outside the Western sphere of influence, analysts have long highlighted that China remains the Western Bloc’s primary long term target despite the current conflict with Russia. It is thus expected that NATO will play a growing role in supporting efforts to ensure that the balance of power in East Asia continues to favour Western interests. Beyond targeting China, a second front of high intensity conflict for NATO outside its traditional area of operations could also refer to a war with one of the United States’ other two designated great power adversaries North Korea and Iran. Potential U.S. attacks on both countries have notably won significant support from across the Western world in the past. Both saw negotiating processes that were established in late and mid 2010s broken down under the Donald Trump administration, with no signs of restoration, while U.S. forces have repeatedly rehearsed for strikes on both countries – the former in partnership with South Korea and the latter alongside Israeli forces.