Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that regional security issues, malicious intrusion, transnational terrorism and hostile foreign intelligence activities remain as the biggest threats to the U.S. and its allies.
He said in his testimony Wednesday the security challenges in the Middle East have increased over the past five years and the region’s threat environment has become more unpredictable and dangerous due to the emergence of Islamic State militants.
Stewart also observed that Russia uses military power to dominate smaller regional states as well as prioritizes force modernization, space-based ISR and nuclear weapon programs.
China has launched a multi-year effort to secure sovereignty in the South China Sea, while North Korea continues to grow its stockpile of fissile materials for nuclear weapon development, he told SASC members.
He also reported various security threats in South Asia, Africa and Latin America to the committee.
According to Stewart, DIA is also worried about state actors who aim to access Defense Department systems and networks to gain asymmetric advantage.
“International progress toward agreement on accepted and enforceable norms of behavior in cyberspace may provide an opportunity to limit the scope and scale of nation-state cyber activities and establish parameters for deterrence of malicious cyber operations,” he added.
He believes the Islamic State organization can increase the lethality and pace of the group’s transnational attacks and noted that some U.S. adversaries collect intelligence in order to counter DoD’s strategic and operational missions.