- The Washington Times - Friday, May 19, 2000

Phalcon Crest

U.S. intelligence agencies reported this week that Israel is nearly finished with work on a high-technology airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft for China. The Israelis resumed work on the jet and U.S. spy services now expect the first of several AWACS aircraft to be delivered to China late next month.
The intelligence is a sign that the Israeli government ignored recent warnings about the sale from Defense Secretary William S. Cohen. The secretary last month urged Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak not to go through with the deal. Mr. Cohen told him the technology contained in the high-tech surveillance jet could be re-exported to Israel's enemies, a common practice for Beijing's military.
U.S. intelligence first detected the outfitting of the Russian jet in Israel last October, but the sale has been known since 1996. The system is being outfitted by the Israelis aboard a Russian Il-76 transport. Inside will be Israel's Phalcon radar system. The resumption of work on the jet indicates the Israelis at least temporarily suspended the deal.
The aircraft will boost the Chinese military's capability to target enemy forces with "over-the-horizon" surveillance. Some Pentagon officials view the sale with alarm because its most likely use will be to directly threaten U.S. aircraft carriers and naval forces in the Pacific that would be called into defend Taiwan in the event of an attack on the island by mainland forces.
The AWACS are part of a major buildup of Chinese military command and control, the software of war fighting. Earlier this year, China launched the first military satellite for a new command-and-control system called Qu Dian. The AWACS aircraft will further enhance the system.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin saw the $250 million aircraft during a visit to Israel last month. China could buy between three and seven additional aircraft.
The Pentagon has said it is opposing the transfer because it will upset the military balance with Taiwan. At the same time, the Clinton administration is refusing to approve sales of advanced U.S. weapons to Taiwan, including Aegis warships that would increase Taipei's defenses.

Army casualties

Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, has declared war on soldier suicides.
"We have a serious problem with suicides in the Army," the four-star general said in a message to the troops. "The suicide rate increased in calendar year '98 and it appears to have increased once again in calendar year '99. In the first five days of January 2000, we have already had four suspected suicides."
He adds, "Suicide prevention is commander/leader business. We must understand potential for suicides and increase awareness for recognizing individuals who are at risk or exhibiting self-destructive behavior. It is our responsibility to help our soldiers and civilians understand how to identify at-risk individuals, recognize warning signs, and know how to take direct action."
Gen. Shinseki's warning comes as the Army is experiencing a record rate of peacetime overseas deployments. The fast "op-tempo" (operations tempo) means the average soldier is spending more time away from his or her family. A recent Center for Strategic and International Studies survey found soldiers complaining of too many peacekeeping missions and too few resources to train. Young officers are quitting at an alarming rate.
Army records show suicides increased by 12 in 1998 to 68. There were 65 self-inflicted deaths last year.
An Army statement said, "This number, although very small, is extremely important to the Army since all deaths by suicides are considered needless deaths by the Army senior leadership."
The service has begun a suicide-prevention program that includes:
Setting requirements for suicide-risk-identification training.
Requiring a psychological autopsy.
Creating local suicide-prevention task forces.
Gen. Shinseki's message said:
"Commanders and leaders must exemplify, by personal example, the Army's existing policies and programs. Training is critical suicide-prevention training must be conducted to standard and the status of training tracked during command training briefs.
"We are reviewing our suicide-prevention program in a commitment to having the best possible tools and resources available to you and your commanders. The key to suicide prevention rests with commander, leader and soldier involvement in caring for our suicide-prone individuals. I need your urgent attention to this matter. We must take better care of our people."

Chairman goes nuclear

Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, blew his top last week following a report in The Washington Times that the military service chiefs and the commander of U.S. nuclear forces are opposing further strategic nuclear cuts cuts proposed by Moscow and favored by the White House.
Gen. Shelton put the word out inside the Joint Staff that he wants "the head" of whoever disclosed internal discussions about the strategic nuclear force that took place inside the Pentagon's secret conference room known as "the tank." A search for the official, dubbed a "witch hunt" for the source, is said to be under way.
Adm. Richard Mies, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, based at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., informed the chiefs during one secret session that he opposes cutting U.S. nuclear warhead levels below 2,500 the level agreed to in preliminary U.S.-Russian arms talks.
The four-star admiral explained that the United States would not be able to carry out its nuclear deterrence and war-fighting mission with less. The mission is outlined in the Single Integrated Operating Plan, or SIOP.

War maps

Faulty maps were blamed for the CIA's failure to identify the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, last year before it was blown up accidentally by U.S. B-2 bombers. But there was one success for the map-making and satellite photograph agency, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, known as NIMA.
According to a CIA report, the agency produced "NIMA-in-a-box" for NATO military forces to use during the war in Kosovo. The spy photos and maps were accessed by 15 laptop computers and printed out on color printers.
The system helped "save the life of a downed F-16 pilot" during the bombing campaign, the report said. "The airborne command-and-control center battle staff used NIMA-in-a-box to identify potential obstacles such as power lines and plotted a safe course for the rescue helicopter," the CIA said.
The report made no mention of the mistaken bombing, which China believes was intentional. No wonder. The report said of the agency's role in Kosovo: "CIA analysts provided key analytical support on the crisis in Kosovo to U.S. policy and military commanders, receiving praise from U.S. diplomats and military commanders."

State insecurity

Speaking of laptops, two State Department intelligence officials disciplined for the loss of a laptop with highly classified intelligence information have been identified.
They are Alan Locke, head of missiles and space issues for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as INR. The second is Nancy May, who was acting INR executive director. The officials were blamed for the missing laptop that investigators believe was swiped by a contract employee from a department conference room during renovation.
Critics of the punishment, which was ordered by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, said the officials were "scapegoats" for security failures of the department's higher-ups.
Mr. Locke was identified to us in the past as a key player in State's cover-up of the sale of Chinese M-11 missiles to Pakistan years ago, a cover-up that prevented imposition of economic sanctions on Beijing. He was sent to the Freedom of Information Act office. Miss May is now working for the Foreign Buildings Office.
Now that 15 other State Department laptops have gone missing, including one from Morton Halperin, the liberal policy-planning director, how many others will be punished?

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