USAF ISR Chief: US Must Monitor Russian and Chinese Investment, Innovation, RTD&E

Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, spoke on a service-intelligence priorities panel on a Sept. 5, during the 2018 Intelligence & National Security Summit in National Harbor, Md. USAF photo.

Lt. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson, USAF’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, said the US must monitor Chinese and Russian strategic investment, innovation, and research, test, development, and evaluation as part of its approach to great power competition during a panel discussion on military service intelligence priorities.

“In addition to looking at why are we bolstering our readiness and our lethality, we have to look at the threat and what are they investing in, what are they testing and evaluating, and what future technologies are they evaluating to get [for] … what they call a competitive advantage over the United States,” she said.

The Sept. 5 panel was held as part of the 2018 Intelligence & National Security Summit, held in National Harbor, Md. The summit was co-hosted by AFCEA and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

During the wide-ranging discussion, which included intelligence chiefs from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, Jamieson described defense and technological developments that have led the US into great-power competition with Russia and China that underscore the urgency of US military readiness and lethality, thus warranting a watchful eye.

In China’s case, Jamieson pointed to the stockpiling of long-range missiles, those weapons’ growing accuracy, and the nation’s geographically alarming placement of surface-to-air missiles in the South China Sea.

Jamieson also cited China’s work in quantum communications and computing, as well as its strategic investments in semiconductors and artificial intelligence, as notable developments.

But she reminded the audience that China’s not the only one running the innovation race.

“Russia’s not really sitting by idly,” she said.

In its case, Jamieson pointed to the Kremlin’s issuance of an AI strategy and its use of Syria as a “proving ground” for things like “hypersonic missiles that they’re able to launch from their MiG-31s” as part of its quest for an advantage on the great power battlefield.

“They have used Syria as a testing ground from all sorts of munitions, from surface-to-surface cruise missiles, to aircraft, to command and control, just to name a few,” she said.

Jamieson also highlighted Russia’s capitalization on nuclear, space and long-range aviation capabilities. By her assessment, she said, Russia has asked itself what it needs to prioritize, how to approach readiness-related testing and training, how to make the most out of “very limited dollars,” and where and how it must “compete with the West.”

Jamieson’s emphasis on the threat posed by Russian and Chinese quests for global military and technological preeminence echoes the Pentagon’s 2018 National Defense Strategy.

“The central challenge to US prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers,” the document’s official summary reads. “It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.”