The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in one of its rare open hearings, identified Asia, and specifically India and Pakistan as well as China, as potential threats and sources of instability.
Hearing testimony from experts, Peter Hoedstra, chair of the House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee, said Washington spends a significant amount of money on understanding threats from all sources, not just from nuclear capable states.
The issues discussed are among several that will be identified during Congressional hearings throughout the coming year as the committee develops its annual authorisation bill for US intelligence services, said the committee in a release.
Kurt M Campbell, senior vice president and director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies' International Security Programme, discussed the challenges posed by Asia and in particular the rapid increase in the power and influence of China.
"Indeed, every major traditional challenge to peace and stability is currently found in Asia, from the continuing dangerous stalemate on the Korean peninsula, the increasingly dangerous undertones in the China-Taiwan relationship, and the tinderbox quality of the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan," Campbell said in written remarks submitted to the committee.
"Furthermore, while the current focus of US actions in the war on terror is in the Middle East, it is arguable that the long term 'hearts and mind' challenge associated with Islamic politics will be found in Southeast Asia, where the largest population of Islamic followers on the planet reside," Campbell warned.
Witnesses addressed a range of potential threats, including shifts in the military and economic power structure of nation states, state sponsorship of terrorism, terrorist groups, advancements in technology and communications, the effects of globalisation and global demographics.
"The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 made an important start in reshaping US intelligence, but in many respects the harder part - reshaping the cultures and organisations, in addition to the organisation charts - lies ahead of us," said Gregory F Treverton, director of the Intelligence Policy Centre for the RAND Corporation.