Free World intelligence communities are confronting a more difficult world in which dramatic changes are altering the geopolitical landscape faster than previously experienced. Both technology and human factors play a role in this dynamic realm, and both technological and human solutions will be necessary for the intelligence community to adjust accordingly.
Maj. Gen. Richard Lake, USMC, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) deputy director, National Clandestine Service for community human intelligence, told an audience at the AFCEA Northern Virginia Chapter on April 19 that the intelligence community as a whole must change the way it operates internally to meet these burgeoning challenges. Some of the geopolitical trends are longtime issues that have become more important, while others are new and require different ways of addressing their challenges.
Gen. Lake noted that one paradigm shift underway involves the definition of key terrain. Traditionally, territory was the metric for terrain. Now, however, population is becoming the defining element. Population growth continues at a steady rate, but people increasingly are migrating to urban areas. By 2020, about two-thirds of the world’s population will reside in urban areas, the general reported.
With this demographic will come increased competition for resources. As urban areas and their accompanying economies grow, so do their need for energy, and economic modernization continues around the world. But the biggest resource competition may be for fresh water. That need is exploding, as the general observed that more than 30 nations obtain more than 30 percent of their water supply from outside their borders. The increased competition for one of the most basic resources is potentially destabilizing.