By Bill Gertz
The Pentagon’s top intelligence official warned that China and Russia are engaged in information and cyber attacks against the United States as part of an undeclared low-level conflict.
Army Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said during a Senate hearing the character of war is changing as technology facilitates greater global reach with weapons such as cyber attacks.
War is no longer carried out as it was during Europe’s 30 Years’ War when forces lined up for battles, he said.
“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.
The three-star general was commenting when asked what would constitute an act of war, such as a cyber attack or use of space weapons against satellites.
“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,” Ashley said.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee with Ashley, also voiced concerns about the growing threat posed by China’s military buildup and global influence operations.
“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 South China Sea, but throughout the globe,” Coats said.
In a 35-page prepared statement, Ashley provided new details of a growing list of military and information threats to the United States posed by China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and terrorist groups.