NATO Strategic Foresight Analysis, Drivers of a Pervasive Competition

January 2024 No Comments

Author: NATO Allied Command Transformation

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The Strategic Foresight Analysis 2023 (SFA23) provides a shared understanding of the Evolving
Security Environment to 2043, thus establishing the context for Allied futures thinking. Based on this
context, the Future Operating Environment 2024 (FOE24) will address the military problem sets for
Allied Warfare Development. FOE24 will also serve as a baseline for further conceptual and strategic
thinking. The renewed foresight cycle, consisting of SFA23, FOE24 and deployable foresight analytics
capacities, will facilitate collective futures thinking within the Alliance, as well as augment individual
Ally’s foresight capabilities.

Since the publication of SFA17, the security environment has been gravely altered, profoundly shaped
by the systemic shocks posed by the COVID pandemic and Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The
years ahead will be most likely characterized by further strategic shocks and structural disruptions,
driven by actors and structural forces alike. The international order is in transition and will become
increasingly multipolar amidst intensifying great power competition and fragmentation at all levels.
Pervasive competition is unfolding and spreading into new domains through all dimensions at all
times. Strategic competitors will engage across a blurred continuum of competition at the global,
regional and sub-regional, state as well as non-state levels.

SFA23 concludes that the competition and adversarial intent of major state actors and terrorist non-state actors will endure amidst disruptions, and will aim to shape and contest the Alliance, as well
as challenge the rules-based international order (RBIO). These actors will continue attempting to
accumulate their own power and expand influence through exploiting instabilities and leveraging
alternative digital, socio-economic and hybrid means.

The report presents its research findings in three main areas: the Evolving Security Environment,
the seven drivers of change, and initial implications to the Alliance for the Instruments of Power.
Additionally, its research context is established in the Four Worlds model scenarios. Essentially,
the report focuses on the overall trajectories and confluence of the key drivers of change, identifying
potential strategic shocks for each, and determines the Alliance`s Evolving Security Environment in
relation to its Instruments of Power. The seven interconnected drivers shaping the Evolving Security
Environment are depicted in Figure 1.

THe SFA2023 report can be downloaded here or from the Strategic Foresight Analysis webpage.


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