We Need To Prepare for the Future of War, NSA Official Says

Glenn S. Gerstell, the general counsel of the National Security Agency, writing at The New York Times: The threats of cyberattack and hypersonic missiles are two examples of easily foreseeable challenges to our national security posed by rapidly developing technology. It is by no means certain that we will be able to cope with those two threats, let alone the even more complicated and unknown challenges presented by the general onrush of technology — the digital revolution or so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution — that will be our future for the next few decades.

The digital revolution has urgent and profound implications for our federal national security agencies. It is almost impossible to overstate the challenges. If anything, we run the risk of thinking too conventionally about the future. The short period of time our nation has to prepare for the effects of this revolution is already upon us, and it could not come at a more perilous and complicated time for the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the other components of the intelligence community.

Gearing up to deal with those new adversaries, which do not necessarily present merely conventional military threats, is itself a daunting challenge and one that must be undertaken immediately and for at least the next decade or two. But that is precisely when we must put in place a new foundation for dealing with the even more profound and enduring implications of the digital revolution. That revolution will sweep through all aspects of our society so powerfully that our only chance of effectively grappling with its consequences will lie in taking bold steps in the relatively near term. In short, our attention must turn to a far more complex set of threats of multiple dimensions enabled by the digital revolution. While the potential consequences are less catastrophic than nuclear war, they are nonetheless deeply threatening in a range of ways we will have trouble countering.