- The Washington Times - Friday, December 10, 1999

Submarine spying

Chinese intelligence agents are continuing to spy on the United States, both here and abroad. According to a recent Pentagon intelligence report, China has obtained secret U.S. military manuals on submarine acoustic capabilities the noise made by the stealthy underwater vessels. The submarine secrets are among the most closely held because they can give the Chinese, with a new attack submarine on the drawing board, the data needed to hunt down and kill U.S. submarines in wartime, we are told. China is in the process of building a new generation of attack submarine, along with a new class of ballistic missile submarine. The Type 093 attack submarine currently is under construction.
Pentagon intelligence officials said the Chinese obtained the U.S. submarine data from sources in the United States and from spies inside the NATO alliance.

Tip-off

The United States failed to detect plans for India’s sudden spate of underground nuclear tests last year because it inadvertently revealed satellite flyover schedules, according to an intelligence source.
Underground nuclear tests normally have a good chance of being spotted by overhead photography. Activity picks up at the site as trucks bring in equipment to insert the warhead down a subterranean shaft.
In fact, the intelligence source said, sometime before the five blasts in May 1998, the United States did detect unusual activity at the Pokhran site and presented New Delhi with a demarche demanding the test be halted.
When India denied such preparations, the U.S. ambassador to India at the time, Frank Wisner, presented them with satellite photos as proof.
Intelligence officials now believe India was able to estimate the times that satellites pass over the site by matching the series of pictures with the times and dates.
When they believed the spies-in-the-sky were not around, they hurriedly set up the five tests much to the surprise of U.S. intelligence agencies.
“We gave away national technical means in the process, apparently, and next time the Indians were a little smarter,” the intelligence source said.
Mr. Wisner, in a speech last year, defended the disclosure of intelligence photographs to the Indians as an effort to deter the test and said he does not believe the Indians were able to learn satellite monitoring techniques from them.

Vieques counterattack

President Clinton’s decision last week to block the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower battle group from training on Vieques Island has prompted Republicans to consider playing hardball with Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rosello, a political ally of Vice President Al Gore, adamantly refused to approve even limited naval exercises. Instead of overriding the opposition, Mr. Clinton caved. Military sources said he feared the spectacle of U.S. marshals forcibly removing squatter protesters on Vieques and its effects on U.S. Hispanic voters.
Republican congressional staffers view Mr. Clinton’s action as Vieques’ death knell. Although more talks will be attempted with Puerto Rican officials, the sources see little chance the U.S. territory will allow the next scheduled battle group to train there in 2000.
The intransigence has staffers plotting a counterattack.
One option is a Senate floor vote on a bill from Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, that would order the Pentagon to close Roosevelt Roads naval station and other bases on Puerto Rico.
“We close down Puerto Rico,” said a congressional staffer. “We think the Inhofe bill will be voted on. Basically what we have whispered in the Pentagon’s ear is they’re not going to listen until we do something.”
Roosevelt Roads’ primary function is to support operations on Vieques.
A second option is to withhold Puerto Rico’s yearly defense research and development grants, a program for states that lack large research institutions.
“You could do some things if you’re willing to send some signals,” the staffer said. “But this administration isn’t willing to do so.”
The Navy says Vieques’ ability to accommodate integrated land, air and sea exercises provides each battle group with unmatched realistic training before deploying to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. The Eisenhower’s air wing will thus be in a less combat-ready state, the service says.

Part-time warriors

Internal Army documents show that the active Army isn’t the only ground-force component having trouble finding recruits.
The active force missed its recruiting goal by nearly 6,300 last fiscal year and is projecting another shortfall this year.
Documents show the Army Reserve is also hurting. It missed its enlisted accessions by more than 10,000. It needed 52,084 soldiers, but signed up 41,777.
The miss comes at the same time that Defense Secretary William S. Cohen is weighing a new round of personnel cuts in the Army National Guard and Reserve cuts strongly opposed by a number of lawmakers.
Meanwhile, the National Guard fared better on recruiting, exceeding its goal. Needed: 56,958. Got: 57,090.
There is more good news. After experiencing attrition rates of more than 20 percent in the mid-1990s, the numbers are declining for soldiers in their seventh to 36th month. After reaching nearly 23 percent in 1994, the dropout rate has dipped to 18 percent.

Iranian anti-stealth

Iran is shopping in Eastern Europe for Czech-made electronic warfare systems known as Tamara, according to Pentagon officials. The systems are supposed to be able to track U.S. radar-evading stealth aircraft the Pentagon’s most important weapons and the future of most U.S. weapons systems, whether aircraft, missiles, ships or vehicles.
Officials tell us the Iranians have been working the illegal arms market in Eastern Europe to find a supplier for the systems, which are manufactured by the Czech Republic’s Tesla-Pardubice Co.
The CIA uncovered a similar effort by Iraq in 1997, when Bulgarian arms dealers were working secretly with Iraqi weapons buyers to obtain some of the systems for Iraq’s air defense network. White House officials appealed directly to Prague’s highest officials to block the attempted sale.
The Tamara is supposed to use unique passive sensing systems that can pick up emissions from such aircraft as the F-117 fighter-bomber and the B-2 bomber. Its range, however, is said to be very limited.

Bill Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at gertz@twtmail.com. Rowan Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at scarbo@twtmail.com.

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