The 2023 Edition of the Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community

The full text of the 2023 edition of the unclassified Annual Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community has now been presented in testimony to Congress by the U.S. director of National Intelligence. There has been good summary reporting on this testimony in the media, but the full report is nearly a 40-page document. It provides the best official U.S. summary of both the threats the free world faces and of the combined mix of both military and civil threats now available.

The full text deserves the attention of anyone interested in U.S. strategy, foreign policy, and the full range of major sources of global instability. Unlike the over-simplifications in the two U.S. national security documents issued by the White House, it does not focus on the growing military threat posed by China to the point where it understates the threat posed by Russia and ignores the full range of major areas of instability in the world.

The Annual Threat Assessment covers a full range of major threats to global stability, including both civil and military threats, and addresses the current changes in U.S. perceptions of the threat in detail. It does begin by focusing on four major military threats: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. At the same time, the full text provides a far more detailed and up-to-date picture of these threats than national strategy documents. It also highlights important recent shifts in the assessment of each threat and in the U.S. intelligence estimate of longer-term trends.

The full text of the Annual Threat Assessment then goes on to address a far wider range of threats in detail. These include threats like climate change and health security. They also include transnational threats, such as conflict technology, changes in the biological sciences, nuclear proliferation, migration, organized crime, and global terrorism. It then concludes with a section on conflicts and instability that provides a concise U.S. intelligence view of the world’s ongoing regional conflicts, potential interstate conflicts, internal strife, and failures in governance.

These summaries make it clear that the United States has global vital national security interests that go far beyond the four major military threats listed at the beginning of the threat assessment.

The full edition of this annual threat assessment is now available on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s website at

A highlighted version of the document—which stresses the full range of threats and causes of global instability that must shape U.S. strategy—is attached to this commentary. It highlights the fact that China and Russia are becoming more serious threats in some areas, but that the range of threats to the United States and its partners extends far beyond the four nations named in U.S. strategy documents—China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea—and that the range of civil, technological, and economic threats is as critical as the range of military threats. It also highlights the rising threats to democratic regimes and effective government that are now increasing poverty and instability throughout the world.


Anthony H. Cordesman

Anthony H. Cordesman

Former Emeritus Chair in Strategy