The Ukrainians are running out of munitions and the war is predicted to endure past 2023; China is debuting new missiles that have the ability to penetrate US defenses; Egypt Is toying with supporting Russia in attacking Ukraine; ISIS is evolving. These are just a handful of the revelations from the viral Discord leaks, a set of US intelligence documents leaked on the gaming platform Discord and other sites by 21-year-old Jack Teixeira of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. Ways to interpret the fallout are manifold, but lessons learned all point back to US responsibility: that Ukraine will face empty bins is a self-fulfilling prophecy that the US can remedy through a revitalization of its defense industrial base. That Taiwan is at enhanced risk of invasion by China every day is only tempered by US willingness to build up Taiwan’s defense and develop a strategic counter-aggression framework. Content aside, that a 21-year-old kid was able to photograph and share US top secret information, and continue sharing it for 8 months – well, it is not a leap to underscore the importance of tightening US intelligence security measures to prevent this from ever happening again.
Marc Polymeropoulos is a nonresident senior fellow in the Forward Defense practice of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. Polymeropoulos worked for twenty-six years at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before retiring in July 2019 at the Senior Intelligence Service level. He was one of the CIA’s most highly decorated operations officers. He is the author of Clarity in Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the CIA.