- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2000

Moscow-Beijing axis

The developing anti-U.S. alliance between Russia and China continues to grow. The Pentagon recently discovered a new area of alarming secret cooperation: nuclear weapons.
The supersecret National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Md., obtained an electronic intercept in November that was passed to senior officials in a top-secret report. The report said Russian nuclear weapons experts are assisting China with "tritium extraction" for thermonuclear warheads. Tritium is a gas used to boost the explosive power of nuclear warheads.
The intercept calls into question the rationale behind the Pentagon's multimillion-dollar "threat-reduction" program designed to prevent just such cooperation. Pentagon spokesmen have insisted that sending cash to pay Russian weapons scientists not to sell their expertise abroad is money spent protecting U.S. interests.
Officials tell us China's interest in tritium extraction is probably linked to development of new and smaller warheads by the People's Liberation Army. This effort was already helped immensely by China's theft of design information on every deployed U.S. nuclear warhead.
In addition to the nuclear weapons cooperation, Russian technicians also are helping China's military build cruise missiles. Moscow also has sold advanced Su-27 and Su-30 warplanes and Sovremenny-class destroyers with high-speed SS-N-22 Sunburn anti-ship missiles.

Captain Condom

The Army's most prestigious medical center handed out some rather graphic fliers on condom use during an AIDS Awareness Day on Dec. 1.
Titled "The Right Way to Rip n Roll," the circular tells how to cover "your Captain" and provides nine cartoon pictures of different condoms, some depicted as soldiers.
Our source, who happened to be at Walter Reed that day and was handed the instructions by a second lieutenant, said he was "greatly offended" by the two-page flier's cavalier approach to sex.
Beverly Chidel, a Walter Reed spokeswoman, defended the handout as promoting safe sex. She said the message was borrowed from a health fair last year at an Army base in Texas.
"It's a way of educating our young junior soldiers per se," she said. "Obviously our doctors and nurses preach abstinence. But unfortunately, not everybody practices that… . If they have to use it, it's a way of preventing sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. We have a lot of young soldiers in the area and we want to make sure they stay healthy."

Green ammo II

Tree huggers at the Pentagon are at it again. We reported several weeks ago how the Army ordered a massive program to replace the lead in millions of 5.56 mm bullets those fired by standard issue M-16 rifles with tungsten filler.
Now the Army is expanding its politically correct "Green Ammo" program even further. Army Undersecretary Bernard Rostker directed the Army recently to consider filling all 120 mm tank rounds with tungsten instead of depleted uranium. Apparently, depleted uranium used in the tank-busting, armor-piercing shells is an environmental hazard, according to the Pentagon's environmental police.
If the conversion is approved, however, there are serious drawbacks. The tungsten shells will have less range than those containing depleted uranium, thus nullifying a key advantage for U.S. ground forces. During the 1991 Persian Gulf war, depleted uranium tank shells gave U.S. forces a decisive advantage over Iraqi tanks. That advantage could be lost under the conversion plan for an environmentally safe battlefield.
We're told by officials who oppose the idea that in addition to the decreased range, tungsten-filled tanks rounds also pose another national security risk, one we highlighted earlier: The United States has no reserves of the material and currently has to buy what it uses from China.
Expect members of the Senate Armed Services Committee to question Mr. Rostker about putting environmental concerns before warfighting skills when he appears later this year before the panel. The Pentagon announced yesterday that Defense Secretary William S. Cohen is recommending Mr. Rostker for the post of undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the top policy-maker in charge of making sure U.S. troops can do their job: fight and win the nation's wars, whether environmentally safe or not.

What gap?

The liberal media has made a big deal out of a supposed gap between military officers and civilian society. But there is a new take on the issue.
The avowed gap stems, in part, from the fact that the officer corps is growing more Republican and more conservative according to academic polling.
This conventional wisdom was enforced last year by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. In a lengthy report, "Project on the Gap Between the Military and Civilian Society, a number of university professors concluded:
"There are numerous differences of opinions and attitudes between elite military officers and the civilian society they serve… . Over the past quarter century, elite military officers have largely abandoned political neutrality and have become partisan Republicans."
But now comes the opposite view in a comprehensive report from Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.
After surveying 12,000 military persons and conducting 125 focus groups, the CSIS paper found little to be concerned about.
"Data gathered in the study … do not indicate an unhealthy relationship between the United States and its military. For instance, 88 percent of military personnel support socializing with civilians, and 75 percent believe that most military personnel have a great deal of respect for civilian society. Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents also believe that the people in their hometown had a high regard for the military."

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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