Washington D.C.Tomorrow, the House Armed Services Committee will host a hearing to discuss worldwide threats. To highlight some key points of discussion leading up to the hearing, Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following comments:

The world is a dangerous and complicated place, and it seems to be getting more complicated. It is easy to recite a list of challenges—we see Russia seizing the territory of Ukraine and supplying men, weapons, and assistance to the rebels there.  In recent months, North Korea conducted a cyberattack against a major movie studio, bringing home to many Americans not just the challenge posed by the regime, but the very real ways in which cyber operations can impact all of our lives.

While we are engaged in very difficult negotiations with the Iranian regime, they continue to pose challenges in a number of places such as backing the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Assad regime in Syria.  At the same time, both they and we are assisting the Iraqi government in its struggles with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  ISIL, and the Syrian conflict at large, provide a seemingly endless list of potential challenges and threats, from waves of refugees destabilizing neighboring regimes, to the spread of terrorism, to broader Sunni-Shi’a fighting, to foreign fighters returning home. The list goes on. 

Even as all of this continues, Al Qaeda core has not entirely been eliminated and some Al Qaeda offshoots continue to plot attacks against us and cause further regional problems.  We cannot take our eye off that ball, just as we need to be very cognizant that we still maintain troops in Afghanistan and that country, while vastly better off than before, is still very fragile.  Similarly, Pakistan, a nuclear-armed state, is currently conducting major and effective operations against some internal extremist threats, but hardly all of them, and the future stability of Pakistan is not a settled matter.

As we look long term, Russia’s role in Europe and Asia is not clear, but their recent actions and their renewed and ongoing military buildup are not encouraging signs.  Although we should not assume an adversarial relationship with China, their actions in the South China Sea and their military developments bear watching. 

In summary, the world has hardly become less complex since the fall of the Iron Curtain.  While we may not face the same existential threat posed by the Soviet Union, the threats we face today are still very real and very complex.  An increased and deep understanding of these threats and the trends and developments that drive them is key for this committee as we work to shape the defense budget and help the Department of Defense and the rest of the national security establishment in their ongoing, actions in our defense.