The Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats, recently unveiled the U.S. National Intelligence Strategy that identifies China and Russia as the major threats to America. This is the first intelligence strategy released since 2014.
China’s growing technological prowess was the highlight of the report. The report states that China has been able to make technological advances within a far shorter timeframe than the United States, thereby allowing it to narrow the technology gap between the two nations.
Beijing is said to have benefitted by sending thousands of students and researchers to learn in America and attracting them back to the country when they gained enough experience. China’s policy of gaining U.S. technology either through trade or theft has also contributed to the country’s technological growth.
Another major threat highlighted by the report is the development of common ground between different groups. For instance, China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, together with organized crime and jihadist groups, could find shared interests between them that can put the U.S. economy and security at risk.
“Our greatest concern comes from those forces merging together… You’re going to see interests aligned… We need partnerships with non-traditional partners, state, local and tribal,” an anonymous senior official from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said to South China Morning Post.
While the earlier 2014 strategy made scant mention of things like cybersecurity, the current report goes into great detail about the necessity of a strong cybersecurity policy because of consistent attacks from China and Russia. Space technologies are also a matter of concern since both Russia and China are pursuing the development of anti-satellite weapons to weaken America’s military.
“While the [intelligence community] remains focused on confronting a number of conventional challenges to U.S. national security posed by our adversaries, advances in technology are driving evolutionary and revolutionary change across multiple fronts… The [intelligence community] will have to become more agile, innovative, and resilient to deal effectively with these threats and the ever more volatile world that shapes them,” the strategy says (The Hill).
To counter threats outlined in the report, the strategy advises the intelligence community to develop deeper ties with international allies and partners. Internally, the intelligence agencies are expected to provide greater support to domestic security, largely due to issues like growing terrorist threats, increased human trafficking, and illicit drug trade.
The report asks the intelligence community to practice appropriate levels of transparency with the public in such domestic security issues and ensure that the rights of individual privacy and civil liberties are honored.
A straining federal budget is seen as a threat to making a timely response in critical conditions. To counter this, “the IC [intelligence community] needs to develop methods to efficiently shift resources to mitigate programmatic (fiscal) risk and avoid loss of vital programs, capabilities, and resource investments,” the report states (VOA News).
Advancement in technology is allowing numerous foreign entities to field a variety of sophisticated threats, including the use of supply chain exploitation and use of cyber tools. The intelligence community is advised to develop and implement new capabilities that would allow them to detect, monitor, and disrupt such threats. The report also encourages the intelligence community to enter into partnerships with private technology companies.