By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2013 – The United States is at a moment of transition, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s director said today during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on current and future worldwide threats.
“The global security environment … presents increasingly complex challenges and a growing list of threats and adversaries,” Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn told the committee. “Demands on the United States intelligence system have skyrocketed in recent years, and these demands are only expected to increase.”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey recently said the United States is undergoing a “period of historic fiscal correction.”
“Our adversaries won’t take a strategic pause to wait for us to correct ourselves,” Flynn said. “The real cost … is what I would describe as public insecurity and the potential for a strategic surprise. And we really won't know what we've missed, given the potential damage that sequestration will have on us.”
In an uncertain security environment marked by a broad spectrum of dissimilar threats from nation states, non-nation state actors, criminal and terrorist networks and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the most dangerous threat facing the United States today comes from potential cyberattacks against the defense industrial base, Flynn said.
“The daily … attacks are damaging on a variety of levels,” he continued, “and they are not only persistent and dangerous, the likelihood of serious damage to our national security is very real. Potential adversaries are increasingly more capable of conducting cyber operations.”
With state actors such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea integrating cyberattacks into their intelligence gathering methods and warfare doctrine, Flynn said, these capabilities remain an important and increasing transnational threat to U.S. security.
“We face a complex and interconnected global operational environment, characterized by a multitude of actors,” the general noted. “Strategic problems, such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, state-on-state conflict, instability, resource scarcity and terrorism remain at the forefront of U.S. warning concerns.”
Small and varied connections, with seemingly no immediate relevance to the Defense Department, can rapidly evolve and radically alter U.S. policy, Flynn added. To uncover these relationships, DIA partners with other intelligence agencies, combatant commands and international partners to monitor developments around the world, the general said. The ability to understand these developments provides a decisive advantage in the face of unforeseen events, he added.
“Today's focus on combat operations in Afghanistan against insurgents and trans-national terrorism around the world does not preclude the potential that other threats will come to the fore, including conflicts among major countries that could intersect vital U.S. interests,” the general said.
“Defense intelligence must be able to provide timely and actionable intelligence across the entire threat spectrum,” Flynn continued. “In close collaboration with the intelligence community, DIA is strengthening collection and analysis and sharing more information across intelligence disciplines and with our nation's closest allies.”