“I’m a firm believer in dialogue,” said Air ForceGen. Kevin P. Chilton, who said he learned the value of military exchanges after working on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Gen. Chilton, who steps down Friday as Stratcom commander, said he was ordered at the time to quickly develop ties with Pakistan's military, only to find that relations had been frozen for years over U.S. nuclear concerns. He was tasked with getting Pakistani military support for U.S. military basing and overflights for the October 2001 operation against al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
“I learned a very important lesson there and something that marked me for life: It’s best to have open dialogue,” he said. “It helps with transparency; if nothing else, you know who to call in crisis, or impending crisis or times of uncertainty. Many, many times it can lead to an opportunity to diffuse a crisis or inform your leadership on how things might progress.”
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates earlier this month visited China and asked Beijing to join “strategic talks” on the four areas. China’s defense minister was lukewarm to the idea, promising only to “study” the talks proposal.
He quoted Chinese Col. Yao Yunzhu, who took part in a 2009 meeting on deterrence, as telling the conference: “We [the Chinese military] don’t like being transparent, quite frankly, at this point. We don’t see it to our advantage.”
Earlier Chinese spying involved obtaining secrets on every deployed weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during the 1990s, a case that was never formally resolved by the FBI — that of Los Angeles defense contractor Chi Mak, which compromised Navy technology.View Entire Story
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Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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