Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and head of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley warned lawmakers recently that they believe Russia and China are already conducting what they described as undeclared low-level conflict with the United States.
Lt. Gen. Ashley told a Senate committee that the nature and character of war has changed with technology, facilitating global reach with cyber-weapons and information warfare. “So the line of which you declare hostilities is extremely blurred, and if you were to ask Russia and China, ‘Do you think you’re at some form of conflict with the U.S.?’ I think behind closed doors their answer would be yes,” Ashley said in response to a question about what he believed would constitute an act of war. “It’s hard to make that determination to definitively say what constitutes an act of war when you’re in the gray zone in a lot of the areas that you operate,” he added.
Noted Coats: “I think it’s been very clear over the past few years that China is willing to take pretty extraordinary means in terms of expanding its influence, not only over the region in the South China Sea, but throughout the globe.” In a 35-page opening statement, Ashley provided details of a growing list of military and information threats to the United States posed by China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist groups; China dominated the threat, however, he said.
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