- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 31, 2000

Several high-ranking U.S. military officials are lecturing visiting Chinese military officers on sensitive military topics, including lessons of recent wars and future war-fighting concepts.

Speakers at the two-week Harvard University program include two U.S. generals and two admirals including the four-star chief of the U.S. Pacific Command who are teaching a group of 25 senior Chinese military officers at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

It is the second ongoing exchange involving Pentagon support for Chinese military officers who are given access to sensitive U.S. war-fighting data. Many of the officers are intelligence officers or deal with covert technology, according to U.S. officials.

Several Pentagon officials and members of Congress said the official Defense Department role in sharing the data circumvents U.S. law restricting such exchanges.

On Tuesday, the colonels heard from Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Henry Osman, director of operational plans and interoperability for the Joint Staff. Gen. Osman spoke on the "lessons learned from recent conflicts," a topic known to be of interest to China's military, said Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Terry Southerland.

A second key speaker yesterday was Army Col. Jason K. Kamiya, chief of staff for the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky. Col. Kamiya spoke on the future of the U.S. Army, although defense officials said the Chinese were expected to ask him about his current mission, Pentagon officials said.

China's military is working on improving its airborne assault capabilities, a key war-fighting skill that would be needed by Beijing's forces in a conflict with Taiwan.

Other speakers include Rear Adm. Jay M. Cohen, chief of naval research, and Air Force Lt. Gen. William J. Begert, assistant vice chief of staff. They will speak on the future of their respective services.

Last week, three Chinese generals and other officers from the Academy of Military Sciences were briefed on U.S. joint war-fighting training and simulation at the U.S. Joint Forces Command in southern Virginia.

That visit prompted criticism from Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, and Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, who challenged the legality of the visits. The two lawmakers co-sponsored legislation passed into law last year that prohibits the Pentagon from enhancing Chinese military capabilities through visits and exchanges.

Critics said the Harvard program will give the Chinese military important insights on U.S. government decision making, information that could be used against the United States during a conflict over Taiwan.

"There is no doubt the Chinese military is gaining militarily useful information through these exchanges," Mr. Smith said yesterday.

Mr. DeLay said yesterday that the Chinese exchange programs show the administration is "recklessly disregarding American national interests."

"To offer the Chinese military briefings on sensitive defense information makes absolutely no sense," Mr. DeLay told The Washington Times.

A senior House aide said lawmakers are expected to seek further restrictions on the Pentagon exchange programs.

Pentagon officials said the Defense Department largely has ignored the legislation based on a legal ruling that said its language is vague. The lawyers assert "there are no legal limits on what can be said to the PLA" the People's Liberation Army during the exchanges, an official said.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, said exposing the Chinese military to U.S. war-fighting capabilities "poses a direct threat" because U.S. forces might have to fight Chinese forces over Taiwan.

"This is reminiscent of the military advice and support that the British and United States gave to Japan's military in the years prior to World War II," Mr. Rohrabacher said. "How can anyone possibly claim it's in the U.S. interest?"

At the Pentagon, Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a spokesman, said the aim of the exchanges are to "engage" the Chinese military. "We think there is value in engagement with their military," he said.

Asked about concerns that the Chinese will glean militarily useful information, Adm. Quigley said: "We're very scrupulous so as to not provide information that would be useful in that regard."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide