Threats to US are more numerous, hard to track

Former CIA and National Security Agency head Gen. Michael Hayden’s presentation last week in Steubenville, Ohio, may have been a sobering one for some of those in attendance. It was quite an education in threats facing both our security as a nation and our safety as individual Americans.

His emphasis was on the changed nature of national security concerns. As Hayden pointed out, for much of human history, major threats came from organized nation-states. They were settled in formal wars.

Now, however, small groups of people, even individuals acting alone, are capable of inflicting enormous damage. At present, Islamic extremist groups and “lone wolf” terrorists are the primary culprits.

That creates a whole new challenge for both intelligence agencies and the military. They need to adapt quickly.

Clearly, U.S. spy agencies are much better at “connecting the dots” than they were before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America. In fact, there are reasons to believe that some terrorist organizations with high hopes of attacking our homeland have been rocked back on their heels and forced to the defensive by our intelligence capability and the U.S. military.

But the threat evolves constantly. No longer is it adequate for our intelligence agencies and armed forces to focus on one or two foes — say, Russia and China. The threat now comes from many directions. Thwarting our foes will require constant attention, adaptation and innovation to keep a changing world safe.


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