- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 19, 2007

Whether our current surge strategy in Iraq achieves some degree of stability or not, our planners must now lay the groundwork to shift from a tactical to a more broadly based strategic planning effort to not only solidified our long-term position in the Middle East region but globally. Our operators will continue to deal with the ongoing tactical situation.

The underpinning must be an aggressive political, economic and military effort, undertaken with clear recognition of what support we can reasonably expect from our allies and friends. Best-case scenarios are unacceptable. Our regional partners as well as foes must be convinced we will not withdraw from the region but be seen as still capable of meeting our global responsibilities.

Given the current unsatisfactory readiness of our Army, Marines and National Guard forces, we need to be able to identify what level of combat and training forces will be required in Iraq so the Iraqis can continue to expand their Army and internal security forces. Options will need to be identified based on the evolving situation.

U.S. combat forces will be needed to protect or respond to threats against our military training personnel. U.S. combat forces in conjunction with Iraqi forces will also be necessary to continue the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq. The key will be how and where we utilize our special forces and position our back-up combat forces so that we can initiate or respond effectively.

The situation in Afghanistan will require continued U.S., NATO and other forces to solidify the gains achieved so far. The Taliban still must be dealt with as well as Osama bin Laden. Pakistan will still have a key role in helping achieve our objectives.

Regional and our other partner infrastructure support facilities and secure pre-positioned sites we now use or plan to use must be identified, and agreements obtained as necessary. I believe the planning needs to cover the next 10 years. Our regional partners — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Yemen and Pakistan — must all be part of this long-range planning.

Continued isolation of the Iranian regime needs to be addressed. Many programs can be used to put this renegade regime on the defensive, while providing the necessary support to Iranians who want to take back their country from that corrupt regime. This needs to start now. We cannot wait until Iran achieves a nuclear weapon capability.

As we address our global responsibilities, the growing threat posed by China and its double-digit military expansion of the last 10 years especially requires our immediate attention. At the core of the China’s increased military capabilities and sophistication is the sensitive technology transferred to China not only by our friends and allies, but by the United States.

A central ambition of China’s military expansion is the integration of Taiwan into mainland China. Taiwan is the main obstacle to China’s unimpeded access to the Western Pacific and beyond. Taiwan’s strategic position straddles the key sea lines of communication from the Straits of Malacca to Northeast Asia.

We at one time factored into our military equation that Taiwan equaled two to three additional carrier battle groups. Our current reduction in naval combat forces has only increased Taiwan’s strategic value.

There is no question China has greatly expanded its military capabilities vis-a-vis the United States. Aside from China’s purchase of military equipment, including ships, aircraft and submarines from Russia and other countries — such as France, Italy and Germany — sophisticated technology transfer to China has been a tremendous force multiplier that is making Beijing a global power.

Under the Clinton administration, key technology listed on the State Department’s Munitions Control list was transferred to the Commerce Department’s Control list where it was promptly licensed for production outside the U.S. by China.

Supercomputer exports were tightly controlled by the U.S. and Japan. With lax congressional oversight, the export controls governing supercomputer sales were bypassed. China was allowed to buy 600 supercomputers.

A most egregious breaches of our national security involved transferring strategic missile technology by Loral and Hughes Electronics that repaired a serious reliability problem with China’s Long March technology. The end result is that China’s strategic missiles can now reach the U.S.

We know China is helping Iran with its nuclear energy program. One has to wonder how much of our sensitive technology China has passed to Iran.

As part of our overall strategic planning, our Pacific allies Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Singapore, et al., must be re-engaged in developing a far-reaching strategy that will serve not only our national security interest but theirs too. Further, the hemorrhaging of our technology must be brought under control. The Bush administration needs to reinstall the export control measures that protect the national security interest of the United States and our allies.

James Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, and deputy chief of naval operations, where he was principal adviser on all Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.

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