U.S. Must Stand Vigilant in Face of New Threats, Flournoy Says

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5, 2010 — Extrem­ist net­works are meld­ing togeth­er, unsafe tech­nolo­gies are rapid­ly increas­ing, and the Unit­ed States must stand vig­i­lant in the face of these threats, the under­sec­re­tary of defense for pol­i­cy said here yes­ter­day.

U.S. troops are fight­ing in Afghanistan today because the region has been a breed­ing ground of “plau­si­ble” threats of mas­sive harm to Amer­i­cans, Michèle Flournoy told the World Affairs Coun­cil.

The most vicious and elab­o­rate attacks of ter­ror­ism in the past decade have orig­i­nat­ed in Afghanistan, “and it’s on the Pak­istani side of the bor­der that Afghanistan’s senior lead­er­ship con­tin­ues to evade jus­tice and plot future attacks,” Flournoy said.

Ter­ror­ists can eas­i­ly access tech­nolo­gies of mass destruc­tion, and they have the will to use them, she added. The recent car­go plane bomb effort by ter­ror­ists in Yemen is one exam­ple of how such attacks can be unpre­dictable, she said.

Free nations in the world can­not allow ter­ror­ist groups to per­pet­u­ate, Flournoy told the coun­cil.

“From the threat of [impro­vised explo­sive devices] in Afghanistan and Iraq, to the pro­lif­er­a­tion of long-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles, it is clear that a wide range of cur­rent and future adver­saries … will be able to employ tech­nolo­gies that can under­mine the con­ven­tion­al advan­tages of U.S. forces,” Flournoy said.

The spread of high­ly sophis­ti­cat­ed tech­nol­o­gy in a mul­ti­po­lar world — defined as “a world of dynam­ic shifts in pow­er and influ­ence” — has cre­at­ed a glob­al trend that is reshap­ing the face of U.S. secu­ri­ty, Flournoy said. She com­pared the post-World War I era, when the Unit­ed States iso­lat­ed itself from oth­er coun­tries, to the world after World War II, when the nation part­nered with oth­er coun­tries to build strong alliances such as NATO.

The Unit­ed States also made com­mit­ments to Europe and Asia for eco­nom­ic and social devel­op­ment, which result­ed in a glob­al order that served the world well for decades, the under­sec­re­tary said.

With Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma en route to India next week, Flournoy not­ed how that coun­try is an exam­ple of a new world pow­er amid glob­al change.

“The Unit­ed States is deeply invest­ed in enhanc­ing a part­ner­ship with India for eco­nom­ic trade and invest­ment to defense coop­er­a­tion,” she said.

Com­bat­ing pira­cy off the coast of Soma­lia is a Unit­ed States and Indi­an effort, she said. The two coun­tries forged diplo­mat­ic and secu­ri­ty ties fol­low­ing ter­ror­ist attacks on both nations. In 10 years, bilat­er­al trade has tripled, and both coun­tries have a land­mark agree­ment on civ­il nuclear coop­er­a­tion, she said.

Chi­na is anoth­er coun­try with which the Unit­ed States wants to fur­ther its rela­tion­ship.

“We are seek­ing in the Defense Depart­ment a greater com­mit­ment from Chi­na to a more con­sis­tent and trans­par­ent mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship,” Flournoy said. “This is vital to main­tain­ing sta­bil­i­ty and pre­vent­ing need­less mis­un­der­stand­ing.”

From a secu­ri­ty stand­point, the Unit­ed States wel­comes strong region­al forces that share a com­mit­ment to democ­ra­cy, plu­ral­ism and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, Flournoy said, cit­ing Indone­sia. It is the fourth-most pop­u­lat­ed nation and home to the largest Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty in the world.

“[Indone­sia] is a strong and val­ued part­ner of the Unit­ed States and South­east Asia,” Flournoy said. The Unit­ed States and Indone­sia recent­ly signed a defense agree­ment to coop­er­ate in mar­itime secu­ri­ty, peace­keep­ing, human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief.

“The high seas, inter­na­tion­al air­space, out­er space and cyber­space are the con­nec­tive tis­sue of our glob­al econ­o­my,” the under­sec­re­tary said. “The glob­al com­mu­ni­ty makes com­merce and the spread of tech­nol­o­gy pos­si­ble; con­verse­ly, the spread of tech­nol­o­gy makes the glob­al com­mons ever more vital to our strate­gic posi­tion and our nation­al pros­per­i­ty.”

These com­mons are increas­ing­ly con­test­ed and need defend­ing against threats such as pirates in the world’s sea lanes, virus­es and hack­ers in com­put­er net­works, and harm­ful space debris and poten­tial anti­satel­lite weapons in space, Flournoy said.

Such glob­al trends force the Unit­ed States to recon­sid­er how to define nation­al secu­ri­ty and even how to define war. Hybrid war also is of con­cern to the mil­i­tary, in which more than one approach is used in war­fare.

Flournoy said a hybrid war could involve an ene­my that uses a wide range of means simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, such as con­ven­tion­al forces or gueril­la tac­tics. “It might spon­sor an act of ter­ror­ism of weapons of mass destruc­tion, dis­rupt its rival’s econ­o­my through finan­cial manip­u­la­tion, hack into an opponent’s infor­ma­tion net­works, wage a glob­al infor­ma­tion cam­paign, or do sev­er­al of these things all at once,” she said.

Flournoy told the coun­cil that mem­bers of the pub­lic are more resilient to ene­my threats when armed with knowl­edge.

“Your work has nev­er been more impor­tant,” she told the audi­ence. “This kind of for­ward think­ing is how we suc­cess­ful­ly pro­tect­ed Amer­i­ca in the after­math of World War II. And this is the basic pre­scrip­tion for safe­ty and secu­ri­ty in this very dif­fer­ent world we face.”

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →