Top Emerging National Security Threats

Lincoln memorial, Washington monument and Capitol, Washington DCThe Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report highlighting the most significant threats to American security. GAO utilized survey information provided by 45 government organizations, including the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of State (State), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). In addition to questionnaires, GAO supplemented the report with the data from most recent national strategies and ODNI’s 2017 Global Trends: Paradox of Progress report. The resulting report provides an overview of 26 long-range emerging threats of high national security consequence.

The report identifies the following four broad threat categories: Adversaries’ Political and Military Advancements, Dual-Use Technologies, Weapons, and Events and Demographic Changes.

Examples of threats are the following:

  • Chinese and Russian Global Expansion and Power Projection;
  • Iranian and North Korean Military and Political Capability Developments;
  • Foreign Governments’ Instability and Reduced Military Readiness;
  • Terrorism and Rise of New Non-State Adversaries;
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), Autonomous and Unmanned Systems, Biotechnology, and other Emerging Technologies;
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction and Cyber Weapons Proliferation; and
  • Climate Change, Increased Migration, and Spread of Infectious Diseases.

Furthermore, the report covers roles and responsibilities of agencies that are essential in identifying and mitigating these threats. In particular, DOD, State, DHS, and the Intelligence Community are the key organizations tasked with maintaining the economic, diplomatic, and military competitive advantage of the United States at home and abroad.

The HSDL offers many resources related to national security in the following featured topics: Cyber Crime & National Security,  Global Terrorism, Unmanned Systems, Climate Change, Pandemics and Epidemics, and Immigration. Please note that an HSDL login is required to view some of these resources.

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