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Report Identifies Emerging Security Threats

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Army National Guard
Monday, January 07, 2019

An unclassified synopsis of long-range emerging national security threats warns the U.S. military and its allies will need to be nimble in the face of widening efforts by adversaries to achieve objectives without resorting to conflict and to also be prepared for widening threats from advanced weapons such as hypersonic missiles, electronic warfare and cyber weapons.

In unconventional competition, adversaries such as Russia and China are attempting and succeeding in meeting security and economic objectives by means short of open conflict, according to the December report to Congress from the Government Accountability Office. It is an unclassified version of a classified report provided to Congress in September, and is based on input from the Defense Department, State Department, Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies.

Instead of tanks, bombs and missiles, adversaries are stealing intellectual property and data by penetrating information systems; they are also seizing disputed land, undermining U.S. economic policies, using proxy forces to interfere with U.S. diplomatic objects, and aiding and encouraging extremist groups.

“DoD officials said that, with current demographic trends, Western liberal democratic institutions will be tested in new ways as the nature of warfare changes,” the report says. “The challenge for the United States and its allies will be to develop responses faster than adversaries through a better understanding of the strategic environment.”

That may be difficult, says the report from the congressional watchdog agency. “Officials added that this presents a challenge since the United States appears to be strategically surprised by an evolving world,” the report says. “Officials stated that China and Russia are more agile than the United States in creating relationships with other countries to degrade U.S. bilateral and multinational frameworks.”

While so-called gray zone activities have threatened the U.S. and U.S. interests, the report also identifies growing threats from weapons. Electronic warfare and cyber weapons are expanding, Russia and China are pursuing hypersonic weapons—including missiles—that challenge U.S. defenses, and there are increased attempts to build or steal weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons and new types of biological weapons.

The full report is available here: https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-19-204SP