Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Gen. Casey to geeks: China’s middle class worries me

My CNAS colleague Amanda Hahnel went to a dinner Monday night with most of the computer geeks in Northern Virginia. (A lot of defense and intelligence computers are humming away out there, so that’s a big crowd.) The dinner speaker was Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the U.S. Army. This is Amanda’s report: ...

576683_091118_RicksGeorgeCasey2.jpg
576683_091118_RicksGeorgeCasey2.jpg

My CNAS colleague Amanda Hahnel went to a dinner Monday night with most of the computer geeks in Northern Virginia. (A lot of defense and intelligence computers are humming away out there, so that's a big crowd.) The dinner speaker was Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the U.S. Army. This is Amanda's report:

I found myself a bit out of place last night as I went to TechCelebration, the Northern Virginia Technical Council's big annual event. I'm not going to lie; sitting at a table with hardcore technology geeks is a little intimidating for someone who has trouble fixing basic computer problems.

My CNAS colleague Amanda Hahnel went to a dinner Monday night with most of the computer geeks in Northern Virginia. (A lot of defense and intelligence computers are humming away out there, so that’s a big crowd.) The dinner speaker was Gen. George Casey, chief of staff of the U.S. Army. This is Amanda’s report:

I found myself a bit out of place last night as I went to TechCelebration, the Northern Virginia Technical Council’s big annual event. I’m not going to lie; sitting at a table with hardcore technology geeks is a little intimidating for someone who has trouble fixing basic computer problems.

I was excited to hear General George Casey speak about the future of the Army … and he sort of did. Gen Casey broke his speech down to answer two distinct questions: How is the Army doing? And where is the Army going? Most people would assess present capacities and shortcomings before offering a future plan of action, but Gen Casey took a different tack.

He described what he believes to be the future operating environment, one filled with ideological struggles with opponents that need to be defeated. He looked at how globalization, technology, and demographic trends will all result in an increase in urban conflict. He went a bit further to predict that we would have “a decade or so of persistent conflict” with violence to achieve political and ideological goals. Mostly things you can read in the JOE.

The nugget of his speech that really struck me though, being a “natural security” nerd, was when Casey said that the “middle class in China is larger than the entire population of the United States; this will increase pressure on resources.” A few sentences later he listed this as a source of future conflict.

While Gen Casey was certainly not saying we are about to go to war with China, I thought it was quite telling that he is watching global resources of raw materials as a source of conflict.

ELIZABETH DALZIEL/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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