Compare And Contrast The Capabilities Of Foreign Intelligence Organizations – Chinese, Iranian, and Russian

Introduction 

This paper is geared towards comparing, as well as contrasting, the foreign intelligence organizations’ abilities to establish the nation-state that presents the greatest risk to the US national security. Particularly, the paper is aimed at comparing, as well as contrasting, the abilities of the Russian, Iranian, and Chinese intelligence organizations to establish which of the three countries presents the greatest risk to the US national security at present. The Chinese intelligence organization is the Chinese MSS (Ministry of State Security). The main Iranian intelligence organisations are the country’s Oghab 2 and the Ministry of Intelligence. Russia has four principal intelligence organisations. To achieve the ends of the paper varied views of leading American security and intelligence officials regarding the threat levels posed by different countries to the US are appraised. As well, the abilities of the countries’ intelligence organisations regarding specific Intelligence Collection Disciplines are weighed against one another.

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China, Iran or Russia

Presently, Russia poses more risk to the US national security than Iran and China. By and large, the risk that Russia poses to the US national security stems from the Russia’s sheer power. The risk that China poses to the US national security stems from the China’s considerable influence on the US economy. The risk that Iran poses to the US national security stems its volatility. In 2015, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, indicated to the US Senate Committee on Armed Services that, of all countries, Russia presents the greatest existential risk to the US national security owing to its extensive nuclear arsenal, threat to its neighbors who are NATO members, its aggressiveness, and its continued role in destabilizing Ukraine. Dunford views China posing less, but still significant, risk to the US security than Russia owing to China’s capabilities and behavior across the Asia-Pacific region. Dunford is convinced that, at present, China does not present a straightforward risk to the security even though the US ought to keep monitoring its activities. As well, he assesses Iran as being the greatest force destabilizing the almost the whole of the Middle East.

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The current commanding general of United States Army Europe, Lieutenant General Frederick Hodges agrees with Dunford that Russia presents the greatest risk to the US national security. In 2015, Hodges spelt out his plan to help build the capacity of Ukrainian security forces to deal with Russia’s onslaught. In 2015, current Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva indicated to the committee that Russia presents the greatest risk to the US national security. He opined that the risk posed by China to the security is less than that posed by Russia. As well, he opined that the risk posed by Iran to the security is less than that posed by Iran. According to his analysis, Russia poses the greatest risk to the security owing to the actuality, or reality, that it has nuclear, as well as conventional, forces.

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Russia is capable of using its nuclear, as well as conventional, forces to breach other nation-states’ sovereignties and harm their national interests. Russia has continued to express its inclination towards applying the nuclear, as well as conventional, forces to breach other nation-states’ sovereignties and harm their national interests as is clear from the Ukrainian case according to Lieutenant General Robert Neller, the current Commandant of the US Marine Corps. Russia has continued to express its inclination towards applying the nuclear, as well as conventional, forces to breach other nation-states’ sovereignties and harm their national interests as is clear from the Ukrainian case according to Admiral John Richardson, the current Chief of Naval Operations. Richardson attributes the current, substantial existential risk posed by Russia to the security of the US to its violence, as well as aggression, in the Middle East region.

Abilities Related to Intelligence Collection Disciplines

Russia, unlike China and Iran, has significant capabilities with respect to all the Intelligence Collection Disciplines: HUMINT (Human Intelligence), SIGINT (Signals Intelligence), MASINT (Measurement and Signatures Intelligence), OSINT (Open Source Intelligence), and IMINT (Imagery Intelligence). Notably, each of the five disciplines is applied adversaries of the US against it to varied extents. Many private organisations, sub-national organisations, and nations employ own HUMINT abilities to gather data relating to own competitors and adversaries.

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Regarding HUMINT abilities, Russia’s capacity for intelligence operations and espionage is at a higher standard than that of the US. Russia places substantial value on dependable HUMINT. It is rather keen on and invests heavily in the procurement of intelligence by secret informants and undercover agents in the US and elsewhere. China’s capacity for intelligence operations and espionage is at a lower standard than that of the US. Both China and Russia, unlike the US, take each of their expats as a HUMINT cutout, or asset. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence is in-charge of its HUMINT operations but its capacity on the same is limited by the actuality that it has few HUMINT agents, it is poor at providing them with the requisite cover, and it has underdeveloped Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence technical abilities. Russia’s HUMINT potency is further bolstered by the actuality that it works closely with many foreign intelligence agencies such as Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.There is a marked likelihood that Russia will continue investing heavily in HUMINT development owing to its significant HUMINT successes.

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Russia maintains highly sophisticated SIGINT systems, or programs, globally. Its directorate in-charge of the programs utilizes at least 20 varied forms of aircrafts, and over 60 vessels, ground stations, and satellites for gathering SIGINT information. It has a SIGINT facility near the US, in Cuba. By and large, Russia has a global SIGINT gathering capability. China has the most wide-ranging SIGINT ability across the Asia-Pacific area of all the countries in the region. Even, unlike Russia, China has no SIGINT facility in the Americas thus it does no pose a considerable SIGINT risk to the US security. As well, unlike Russia, Iran has no SIGINT facility in the Americas thus it does no pose a considerable SIGINT risk to the US security.

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Russia and China have well-developed OSINT units although they place more emphasis on HUMINT than OSINT. The two countries have invested significantly in systems and operational analysts who dependably link disparate OSINT points not linked before. Unlike Russia and China, Iran is devoid of well-developed OSINT units and organizational structures. Primarily, the considerable IMINT risk presented by Russia is represented by own extensive satellite imagery systems. The country has been investing in reconnaissance satellites since early 1960s. Presently, it has since has at least 850 IMINT photoreconnaissance satellites in orbit. By and large, Russia, unlike China, has a space reconnaissance program that is rather robust. The Chinese space reconnaissance program is limited in its capabilities. The program is limited to gathering imagery over it boundary with Russia.The Iranian space reconnaissance program has been relatively ineffective especially with respect to maneuverable or low-lying targets. The program does not present a considerable threat to sophisticated and dedicated adversaries.

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Russia has varied, well-developed, and specialized MASINT programs. Its Prognoz satellite’s abilities are comparable to those of the satellite system maintained by the US Defense Support Program. As yet, there is no evidence that China and Iran have well-developed, and specialized MASINT programs. The two countries lack dedicated MASINT technologies. That means that they do not pose significant MASINT risk to the US security.

Conclusion

Presently, Russia poses more risk to the US national security than Iran and China. By and large, the risk that Russia poses to the US national security stems from the Russia’s sheer power. Russia presents the greatest existential risk to the US national security owing to its extensive nuclear arsenal, threat to its neighbors who are NATO members, its aggressiveness, and its continued role in destabilizing Ukraine. Russia poses the greatest risk to the security owing to the actuality that it has nuclear, as well as conventional, forces. Russia, unlike China and Iran, has significant capabilities with respect to all the Intelligence Collection Disciplines. It is capable of utilizing all the five disciplines in the development all-source intelligence information or products for its military planners, industrial concerns as well as political leaders.

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