The Pentagon is waging a new type of 'COVID– Covert' war

Buried deep within the US Pentagon, accessible to only a few of the most highly ranked government officials are the top secret “War Conference Rooms.”

 The Pentagon (Aerial view)  (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ TOUCH OF LIGHT)
The Pentagon (Aerial view)
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/ TOUCH OF LIGHT)
Buried deep within the US Pentagon, accessible to only a few of the most highly ranked government officials are the top secret “War Conference Rooms.” I am told they are so secret that they have specially secured elevators, sophisticated layers of security and technology so advanced that it resembles a sci-fi movie.
The “War Conference Rooms” are where the big brass plan for war. It is also where the calm and collected generals, admirals and directors of the famous three letter federal agencies can be seen going to war against each other as they passionately debate details, projected casualties, capabilities, international war and the other key elements that go into planning a war.
Then called the Department of War, it is where former US president Harry Truman sat with America’s iconic generals and planned what would become the most triumphant victories of World War II. It is where former secretary of defense Robert McNamara mapped out the Vietnam War and where the Iraqi War Desert Storm was planned.
Currently, it is where major elements of the war against COVID 19 are being formulated. And, while the attributes being considered are the same – casualties, capability and law – fatalities, casualties and impact on society of COVID-19 are greater than the most malicious attacks on American soil, without a single shot being fired or bomb being dropped. The rules of conventional war have been thrown out the window and turned on their heads. The world has entered a new era of warfare. Yet, it is a type of warfare without a name.
Richard Perle is one of my friends who took part in the heated “wartime-war room” scuffles; first as Assistant Secretary of Defense during the innovative “Star Wars” era of the Cold War, and then as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board and Advisor to the Secretary of Defense.
Nicknamed by the Soviet leadership the “Cold Warrior,” Perle has seen it all. Unlike the conventional wartime battlefield victories of the past, the fall of the Berlin Wall marking the end of the Cold War was the result of economic policy. And, unlike the brazen Allied soldiers who landed in Normandy and marched through the poppy fields of France to liberate Europe, it was the economists like Richard’s mentor, Albert Wohlstetter, and economic Institutions like the RAND Corporation that led some of the most prevalent strategies.
Wars differ. Battlefields change. Strategies must adapt – at least to be victorious they must.
When I studied war in graduate school, one of the main points made by the leading professors and military tacticians was that warfare is always evolving. 
For one, technology changes, from the Roman use of cavalry and clunky body armor, to the Chinese advent of firepower, to the large, siege-breaking boulder-throwing cannons used by the Ottoman Turks to besiege the most fortified castle walls. 
In fact, as our professor in nuclear deterrence theory, Uzi Arad, who was also the former Director of Intelligence in Israel’s coveted Mossad explained, for the first time in history a weapon – the nuclear weapon – was created not to be used but as political leverage based on threatening its use.
The battlefield has also changed, from conventional – “country vs. country” – warfare to asymmetrical warfare, a country versus a non-government entity, such as terrorists. And, while the coronavirus has many of the same consequences as wars, it too represents something new.
It is not a matter of whether we will win. We in the West are resilient, resourceful and innovative. We will pick ourselves off the ground, dust ourselves off and march forward victoriously. We will defeat COVID-19. 
However, as I mentioned to a colleague who served for 22 years as a Special Agent for Foreign Counterintelligence in the FBI, the big problem is what this signifies for our future and how we deal with it.
Whatever side of the debate one stands on as to whether the spreading of the virus was unintentional or not, it is hard to deny that China is emerging as a major global competitor. And, while we still have much to learn, we know the Chinese come from a patient and strategic ancient culture.
As such, it is very plausible that they have studied the fault lines of democracy and understand how to irritate and cause breakdowns to our societies without firing a shot.
A friend who served as an Admiral in the US Navy and now advises the CDC on COVID explains that we should have treated it as the most dangerous thing in the world when we first heard about it, and if it turned out to be nothing, it would have merely disrupted the lives of citizens. 
We too must pay attention to the possibility of a new form of warfare emerging – a strategic, silent form, which attacks democracies in their vulnerable parts from within. We must not lose our freedom. We must not be abused by our freedom. We must begin to prepare ourselves for this war without a name.

The writer is CEO and founder of Sussman Corporate Security and editor of the book Variety of Multiple Modernities: New Research Design.