Norfolk: Thirty-nation global nuclear alliance to wage war against “cognitive, virtual and physical effects”

Diplomacy is only for minor states.” George Meredith, The Adventures of Harry Richmond.

This is apropos a recent feature on the website of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (forming the less-than-imaginative acronym ACT), which was established in 2003 as a NATO command in the U.S. at Norfolk, Virginia, where the annual Norfolk NATO Festival is held in its honor.

One of the chief responsibilities it was tasked with is the maintaining and upgrading of NATO global strike capabilities. For example, NATO Response Force.

The NATO Response Force was fully launched in 2006 with a two-week, 7,000-troop, combined land, sea and air simulated assault on…a NATO nation? A neighboring country portrayed as threatening a NATO nation? No, on the Cape Verde islands off the western coast of Africa. Steadfast Jaguar was its code name.

Steadfast Jaguar: the world is not enough

Earlier this month NATO’s Military Committee (leading officers and commanders from all thirty member states) visited ACT Headquarters to deliberate over new missions for the global military bloc. Stopping fictional ethnic cleansing, fighting Taliban in the Hindu Kush, patrolling entire seas (for example, the Mediterranean and the Arabian), airlifting troops to Somalia and Sudan, flying AWACS along the U.S. Atlantic Seaboard, expanding from 16 to 30 members since 1999, absorbing 40 partners, deploying naval groups to the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, the Caribbean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, waging air and ground wars in three continents is just not enough to keep it busy.

To dispense with the pablum and window dressing routinely employed regarding NATO’s concerns about climate change, the Corona virus, insuring secure shipping lanes, women’s rights, LGBTQ issues in the workplace, etc. (see the NATO website), the main topic of discussion at the Norfolk meeting was the bloc’s Transformation’s Warfare Development Agenda. That less-than-pacific priority is necessitated by the fact that the peaceful, compassionate, inclusive, diverse and tolerant global expeditionary military bloc is confronting “challenges that will be increasingly persistent, boundless, and simultaneous.” Poor lambs. Pitiable, vulnerable, unjustly-targeted victims.

Among the boundless, ubiquitous, unending, 360-degree threats the peace-loving alliance is – without any provocation on its part – subjected to is the ever-looming menace that state and non-state actors (that potentially means any nation and any individual on the planet) will “exploit multiple instruments of power to compete for advantage and seek to impose cognitive, virtual and physical effects against the Alliance.” Imposing cognitive effects on a military bloc whose combined population is over a billion and annual military spending over $1 trillion is surely “asymmetric warfare” at its most pernicious and diabolical. It may be added to NATO’s list of reasons to activate its Article 5 war clause.

And this is in the U.S., whose mainland has not confronted a military threat since 1812 (and that largely of its own doing). And while meeting in the same city that hosts the Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval station in the world.

This of course is in no manner humorous, given the nature of what’s being discussed, but the rest of the ACT press release on the thirty-nation meeting is replete with both the macabre and the ridiculous. Examples abound in the short report, but here are a few choice samples:

-The challenges demand in-depth understanding of the strategic paths of relevant actors and the trends that influence the dynamic character of warfare. [An honorary doctorate degree to anyone who can disentangle that turgid gallimaufry or even diagram the sentence.]

-NATO’s military instrument must be prepared and agile to support NATO’s core tasks. [One can be forgiven for reading sexual symbolism, and that not of the most subtle, into the sentence.)

-Allied Command Transformation, as NATO’s Warfare Development Command, leads the military adaptation of the Alliance, contributing to the orientation of nations’ efforts, ensuring coherence, assuring interoperability and delivering the connecting tissue that makes the Alliance’s capability greater than the sum of its individual parts.

-The Alliance is focused on five warfare development imperatives: cognitive superiority, layered resilience, influence and power projection, cross-domain command, and integrated multi-domain defence.

As for cognitive superiority, judge by what you’ve read. What the distinctions are between all-domain, multi-domain and cross-domain is too esoteric a question for most minds to fathom. Healthy minds, that is.

What is not difficult to comprehend is that the nations and concerned citizens of the world should never have tolerated the evolution and seemingly endless expansion of this dangerous organization in the first place.