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National Security: The Evolving Security Threat and Opportunity

National Security Observations

National Security was initially conceived as a protection against military attack. It has evolved in significance over the years to include economic independence, border security, crime, energy, manufacturing, cyber, logistics, capital markets, and our industrial supply chain to name a few. Events like 9/11 kicked off an era of cloud innovation and investment unlike the world has ever seen, transforming how we consume, store, and share critically important data. Two decades later, we are embarking on a similar era of innovation, which will not be defined by a specific event, but by a series of responses to the pandemic.

“In the coming year, the United States and its allies will face an increasingly complex and interconnected global security environment marked by the growing specter of great power competition and conflict, while collective, transnational threats to all nations and actors compete for our attention and finite resources. These challenges will play out amidst the continued global disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, contention over global efforts to deal with a changing climate, increasingly powerful non-state actors, and rapidly evolving technology, all within the context of an evolving world order where the continued diffusion of power is leading actors to reassess their place and capabilities in an increasingly multipolar world.” Office of the DNI, Annual Threat Assessment

We are living through highly uncertain and volatile times as the foundation of global stability fractures below our feet. Take the BRIC nations as an example; Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated recently, that over a dozen countries have formally applied to join the BRICs grouping after they decided to allow new members. Many of the established trading and security allegiances struggle for relevance (G-7, G-20, NATO) as we enter one of the most fragile periods of the year. As temperatures drop, and winter sets in across Europe, a reliance on heating oil will quickly shift leverage back to Russia (an economic power the size of New York) bringing Vladimir Putin into a position of strength and significance once again. These geo-economic and political moves are not the easiest framework to underwrite, and likely ones which will play out over many years and decades to come.

Earlier this year, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued its Annual Threat Assessment which breaks down the most dangerous threats to national security. Competition and potential conflict between nation-states remain elevated, and the report focuses on Beijing, Moscow, Tehran, and Pyongyang. In every case, countries are pushing back against the United States where they can, both locally and globally. A summary of the report highlights the following:


  • Beijing sees increasingly competitive US-China relations as part of a geopolitical shift and views Washington’s diplomatic, economic, and military measures as part of a broader effort to prevent China’s rise and undermine CCP rule
  • The CCP is increasing its criticism of US failures and hypocrisy, including the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and racial tensions in the United States
  • Beijing is increasingly combining military power with its economic, technical, and diplomatic clout
  • Beijing will press Taiwan to move toward unification and will react to what it views as increased U.S. – Taiwan engagement
  • Space and Cyber


  • Does not want a military conflict with the United States
  • Moscow will continue to pursue its interest in a competitive and confrontational way, including pressing to dominate Ukraine and other countries in its “near-abroad” agenda
  • Russian officials have long believed the US is trying to undermine Russia, weaken President Putin, and install western friendly regimes in former Soviet states, which they conclude gives Russia leeway to retaliate
  • Continue to leverage involvement in the Middle East and North Africa to increase clout and undercut US relations
  • Expanded engagement in Venezuela and Cuba, using arms sales and energy agreements to try and expand access to markets and natural resources
  • Nuclear capabilities
  • Space and Cyber


  • Continuation of threatening behavior to erode US influence in the Middle East
  • Leverage its expanding nuclear program, proxy and partner forces, diplomacy, and military sales and acquisitions to advance its goals
  • Despite Iran’s economic challenges, Tehran will seek to improve and acquire new conventional weaponry
  • Continued threat to Israel
  • Uranium enrichment of up to 90 percent
  • Cyber

North Korea:

  • Kim Jong Un views nuclear weapons and ICBMs as the ultimate guarantor of his totalitarian and autocratic rule
  • North Korea will continue to engage in illicit activities including cyber theft and the export of UN-proscribed commodities to fund regime priorities, including Kim’s WMD program
  • Cyber

Response: Critical Infrastructure & National Security Investment

Earlier this year, the Under Secretary of Defense Research and Engineering issued a paper titled: Technology Vision for an Era of Competition. In it, the paper focused on charting a course for the United States’ military to strengthen its technological superiority amidst a global race for technological advantage. The paper focused on 14 technologies broken down into 3 distinct groups, which are vital to maintaining the United States’ national security. They were:

Emerging Opportunity Areas

  • Advanced Materials
  • Biotechnology
  • Quantum Science
  • Future Generation Wireless Technology

Effective Adoption Areas

  • Human-Machine Interfaces
  • Trusted AI
  • Microelectronics
  • Integrated Networks
  • Space Technology
  • Advanced Computing and Software
  • Renewable Energy & Storage

Defense Specific Areas

  • Hypersonics
  • Cyber
  • Directed Energy

Investing in American Independence and National Security

Great power politics and strategic competition have returned for the first time in decades and will be a driving force in global markets and alpha creation for years to come. The great decoupling will be painful and volatile, but quite possibly one of the largest economic opportunities of our lifetime. The US Government will have no choice but to invest heavily in the re-shoring of critical industries, technologies, and partnerships. We will see a streamlining of security requirements which will transform our technology ecosystem forever. The defense primes can only do so much, therefore we believe the next decade will bring growth in private commercialization and non-traditional innovation.


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