Krepinevich, who has designed war-game scenarios for the U.S. military, warns that the Chinese will be able to launch cyberattacks by exploiting the element of surprise. They might do this by breaking up the U.S. military's communications networks with pre-emptive attacks "to the point where such attacks, or even the threat of such attacks, would raise the costs of U.S. action to prohibitive levels." The Chinese call the military capabilities that accompany this strategic philosophy "assassin's mace," he explained. The Pentagon has repeatedly fended off cyberattacks from Chinese hackers.
Given such technological threats, as well as America's weakened economic position, a major strategy review "comparable to those during the first decade of the Cold War is in order," says Krepinevich. It is one, senior defense officials add, that will also require a similar degree of urgency.