BRUSSELS — NATO’s senior civilian official said on Monday that the military organization’s all-for-one, one-for-all collective defense provision would be expanded to encompass attacks in space.
According to Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, any assault on one of the 30 partners is considered an attack on all of them. It has so far only been used in more classic military strikes on land, sea, or air, as well as more lately in cyberspace.
At a German Marshall Fund think tank event, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated, “I believe it is crucial (with) our Article 5, which specifies that an assault on one would be viewed as an assault on all, that we all will respond.”
“We will make it plain at this summit that any assault against space capabilities, such as satellites and other systems, or assaults from space would or might trigger Article 5,” he stated just hours before chairing a meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden and his colleagues.
Around 2,000 satellites orbit the globe, with NATO nations controlling more than half of them. These satellites provide everything from mobile phones and financial services to weather predictions. Some of them are used by military leaders to navigate, communicate, exchange intelligence, and detect missile launches.
After land, sea, air, and cyberspace, NATO leaders designated space to be the alliance’s “fifth domain” of operations in December 2019. Many member nations are concerned about what they perceive to be China’s and Russia’s escalating assertive activities in space.
Around 80 governments have satellites, and private corporations are beginning to enter the market. In the 1980s, satellite communications accounted for just a small portion of NATO’s communications. It’s at least 40% these days. NATO had more than 20 stations during the Cold War, but modern technology allows the world’s largest security group to increase its coverage with a sixth of that number.
NATO’s collective defense clause has only been used once, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, when the alliance rallied behind the US.
Former President Donald Trump alarmed U.S. allies, particularly those bordering Russia, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, when he hinted that if they didn’t increase their military spending, he would not rally to their side.
Since assuming office, Biden has tried to reassure them, and he will use the summit as a formal occasion to reaffirm America’s commitment to its European friends and Canada.