Serving Tory Prime Minister Theresa May is keen for a post-Brexit Britain to play a greater role in the military alliance, which was formed after World War II to counter the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.
The NATO job comes with a tax-free salary of €260,000 (£222,019 or US$272,000) and is currently held by former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who is to step down in 2018 or 2019.
Allies of Cameron argue it is crucial for Britain to get the job if it wants to “play a greater role in European security and show EU allies that we want to play a constructive post-Brexit role on the continent.”
“The key at this stage is to flag high-level interest in leader level conversations and to show that our eventual candidate is visible and acceptable to everyone,” the Daily Mail quoted one friend of Cameron saying.
“That means a would-be candidate would need to start talking about the right issues and show up at various conferences such as the Munich Security Conference and Davos.”
A NATO source, also quoted in the Mail, said Britain is in a strong position as it “has weight as militarily the largest and most significant” country in the alliance besides the US.
“Securing the support of the US will be important to getting the post. It’s not necessarily essential at the outset, but the US view in the end carries a lot of weight with other allies and the final decision has to be by consensus of all 28 allies,” he added.
However, Britain’s future military power is in question after senior sources told the Telegraph this week the armed forces face tough budget cuts to meet new spending commitments.
“There are going to be some very tough decisions in the next two or three months,” the source said.