Intel report warns of ‘complex’ threats, competition from Russia and China in space race

The United States faces an “increasingly complex and uncertain world” where threats are becoming “even more diverse and interconnected,” according to a new intelligence community document released Tuesday.

The new National Intelligence Strategy document is a road map for the 17 intelligence agencies to confront and stay ahead of the worst-case scenarios that keep decision-makers up at night.


“We have to become much more agile, more innovative, more creative,” Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, writes in the report.

Among the threats, the report cites strong competition from Moscow and Beijing to expand their footprint in the space race.

“Adversaries are increasing their presence in this domain with plans to reach or exceed parity in some areas,” the report states. “For example, Russia and China will continue to pursue a full range of anti-satellite weapons as a means to reduce U.S. military effectiveness and overall security.”


The report also addresses Russia President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions, stating, “Russian efforts to increase its influence and authority are likely to continue and may conflict with U.S. goals and priorities in multiple regions.”

When the last strategic document was done four years ago, the Obama administration was finalizing the Iran nuclear deal. The new report warns that despite its 2015 commitment to a peaceful nuclear program, Iran’s pursuit of “more advanced missile and military capabilities and continued support for terrorist groups, militants, and other U.S. opponents will continue to threaten U.S. interests.”

Perhaps most concerning is that technology continues to level the playing field, giving outsized strength and abilities to small nations or even terrorist groups — some of which still seek weapons of mass destruction.

“Multiple adversaries continue to pursue capabilities to inflict potentially catastrophic damage to U.S. interests through the acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which includes biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons,” it states.


The report says adversaries are “increasingly leveraging rapid advances in technology to pose new and evolving threats— particularly in the realm of space, cyberspace, computing, and other emerging, disruptive technologies.”

“Technological advances will enable a wider range of actors to acquire sophisticated capabilities that were previously available only to well-resourced states,” it states.

The report says that the intelligence community has made progress in building a comprehensive approach through the integration of workforce initiatives, intelligence community partnerships, transparency and technological innovation.

It also says intelligence community leaders and managers have promoted a more efficient, effective and agile intelligence enterprise that enables the United States to safeguard national interests. The report says the intelligence community is working to share intelligence with foreign partners, “notably in countering terrorism and supporting military operations.”

“Significant progress has been made in building capacity, standardizing practices, and sharing information with partners in and outside the United States to help defend against and respond to foreign and foreign-inspired threats to U.S. interests, both at home and abroad,” it states.