- The Washington Times - Friday, July 21, 2000

PLA on Taiwan

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) does not want to see a resolution of the current Taiwan Strait crisis. That's the view from Pentagon China watchers.
Keeping tensions at a low boil gives the PLA's top generals the basis to argue inside the Central Military Commission for more resources for China's military buildup. This includes a potent arsenal of short-range ballistic missile targeted at the island.
A resolution of the crisis would mean China's military might lose the rationale for the buildup. Since last summer, when Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui called for "state-to-state" relations between the island and mainland, tensions have run high. The PLA brass would like to keep it that way.
The Chinese military buildup includes changes to both the hardware and software elements of its forces. The PLA is working on new "asymmetrical" warfare weapons systems that will give them the biggest bang for the buck in a possible conflict with high-technology enemy forces, namely the United States.
Among the key features of China's military modernization:
Increasing capabilities for joint war fighting.
Revising doctrine and downsizing many divisions to brigade-size units and an overall troops reduction of 500,000.
Cutting back on military academies by one-third.
Creating a noncommissioned officer corps, like the U.S. military.
Cutting mandatory military service from the current three-to-five-year hitch to two years.
One troubling aspect of Chinese military activities in recent years has been Beijing's strategy called "advance and reassure" like the takeover of islands in the South China Sea, which was followed by a false announcement that China is not expansionist.
This raises the chance for miscalculation. The PLA might try to use force against Taiwan thinking the U.S. will not intervene. "They have an ability to get it quite wrong," said one Pentagon official.

Army 'Coo' [cont.]

This is the latest installment in our monitoring of the Army's "consideration of others" (Coo) program. An officer tells us he's been scheduled to go Coo-ing next month and is appalled at the pre-class homework.
Each unit member must paste a picture of himself or herself on a piece of paper and then write alongside the five or six words that best describe the person.
"Place them around the picture," the instructions say. "You may draw a picture or use an actual photograph but you are to use your own descriptive words."
Personnel must also list groups to which they belong or with which they relate.
The objective, says the lesson plan, is to "allow soldiers to become familiar with each other. This exercise is designed to give soldiers the opportunity to learn a little about their co-workers and understanding their characteristics, values and interests. By understanding each other's makeup, you have a better understanding of the individuals as a whole."
The Coo assignment tells each soldier they must discuss all their answers aloud and be prepared to answer questions.
One soldier told us, "I am appalled that the military would allow such an invasion of soldier's privacy to occur, especially in light of the hierarchical nature of the military. Is there any doubts that if a soldier's values are not those of the group that the soldier might feel pressured to conform. This program smacks of brainwashing and indoctrination."

Top gun down under

Actor Tom Cruise tried last week to reach Defense Secretary William S. Cohen during the Pentagon chief's visit to Sydney, Australia. Mr. Cruise lives in Sydney with his Australian wife, Nicole Kidman. The star of the action movie "Top Gun" about Navy fighter pilots spoke to the defense secretary several months ago about getting a ride in an Air Force F-16. The call in Sydney was to follow up on the request, we are told.
Mr. Cohen, who was in Australia on Saturday and Sunday to sign an agreement with Australian Defense Minister John C. Moore, was not able to hook up with Mr. Cruise during his stay.
"He was great in 'Top Gun' but I didn't see 'Eyes Wide Shut,' " the steamy drama featuring Mr. and Mrs. Cruise, the latter appearing naked in several scenes, Mr. Cohen said.
The defense secretary told us that the 1986 movie, filmed at the Navy's Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, boosted Air Force enlistments but surprisingly did not lead to more Navy sign-ups.
Mr. Cohen told reporters in January he had contacted a number of Hollywood big shots, including Mr. Cruise, to persuade them to take part in a new Pentagon recruiting campaign. Perhaps Mr. Cruise is holding out for a ride on an F-16 in exchange for an Air Force public service announcement.

Chicken coop foxes

The number of communist Chinese nationals working inside our nation's high-tech and defense companies is growing. Former Reagan administration officials claim they disapproved of Chinese technicians working on so-called "dual use" technologies that can be used on military as well as civilian purposes.
But under the Clinton administration, the Commerce Department is approving hundreds of Chinese each year to come to America to work on "dual use" commodities whose export to China is tightly controlled. The upward trend comes despite repeated warnings from the administration's own counterintelligence people that China uses any means available to steal U.S. technology.
We've obtained a confidential Pentagon document (a snapshot of one year's worth of applications) that lists more than 250 Chinese citizens. They work, or want to work, at such high-tech giants as Honeywell, Intel, Texas Instruments, Sun Microsystems and General Electric. We placed calls to some of the companies, but got no reply.
The documents show the Chinese get access to encryption, integrated circuits, source coding, software programs, gas turbines, semiconductors, microprocessors and "missile technology."
Commerce calls the hirings "deemed exports" because allowing a foreign worker to enter our high-tech world is tantamount to providing the know-how to the foreign country.
The department, which Republicans have accused of liberally approving technology transfers to Beijing in a consuming effort to increase trade dollars, operates "deemed exports" in virtual secrecy. On its Web site, the department posts the number of applications processed each year, of which only 1 to 2 percent are disapproved. But it keeps confidential the worker's identity, his company and the technology commodity on which he or she works.

Intercepts

Candidates for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have emerged to succeed Gen. Henry H. Shelton, who has another year to go. They are: Gen. James Jones, the Marine Corps commandant (who would be the corps' first chairman]; Adm. Dennis Blair, who heads U.S. Pacific Command; and the new chief of naval operations, Adm. Vernon Clark.
Air Force Secretary F. Witten Peters gave his service bad marks in managing the flurry of Clinton administration peacekeeping deployments overseas.
Mr. Peters told told graduates at the Air Force Academy:
"These airmen too often were dispatched on short notice with no specified return date. We tried to operate with volunteers, but as these missions continued and new ones were added, volunteers became short.
"We did not budget for these operations either with dollars or manpower. We operated this way because each new mission was 'temporary' and many were supposedly of short duration. This was ad-hocery at its worst, and we paid a huge price.
"Contingency operations drained off money intended for training and maintenance. They also drained off our experienced airmen, who were sent forward at the cost of reduced on-the-job training at home. Airmen who deployed were overworked and in many cases were unable to continue combat skills training."
c 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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