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November 19, 2009
Notes from the Pentagon

DIA on China's new fighter
The Defense Intelligence Agency is sticking by its estimates of when China will deploy a fifth-generation jet fighter after recent remarks by a Chinese general that Beijing's most advanced jet could be fielded by 2017 - years earlier than U.S. intelligence projections.

"We believe that first flight of a Chinese fifth-generation fighter will occur in the next few years; however, we also believe it will take about 10 years before the [People's Liberation Army] begins to operationally deploy a fifth-generation fighter in meaningful numbers," DIA spokesman Donald Black told Inside the Ring.

As reported in this space last week, Gen. He Weirong, the deputy commander of the Chinese air force, told Chinese state-run media that the new advanced jet would fly soon despite U.S. intelligence projections that it will not be ready for combat for at least 10 years. (Gen. He was incorrectly identified as Gen. Ho Weirong last week.)

Gen. He said the first jet could be deployed by 2017, and his remarks have sparked renewed debate over whether to continue production of the Pentagon's most advanced jet, the F-22. Production of the jet, beyond 187 more planes already in the pipeline, was effectively canceled by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates earlier this year.

If deployed by 2017, the new advanced warplane would make China's jet force more advanced than those of Britain, France and other Western European statesaccording to military analysts.

Asked if U.S. projections about the new Chinese jet were incorrect, Mr. Black said "the intelligence community has been warning of the development of a Chinese fifth-generation fighter for several years."

"Intelligence estimates typically provide a range of dates associated with operational deployment," he said. "Gen. He's comments are generally consistent with these intelligence community estimates of Chinese fifth-generation fighter operational deployment."

The United States is deploying large numbers of F-35 jets, which lack some fifth-generation capabilities of the F-22, such as supercruise, a propulsion system that allows the jet to fly longer distances, fire its long-range weapons, and then exit without running out of fuel.

Mr. Gates said in July that U.S. projections of when China would deploy its new fifth-generation jet, dubbed J-XX by some analysts, indicate that the F-22 was not needed in large numbers because China will not have large numbers of fifth-generation fighters by 2020. Despite large numbers of F-35s and some F-22s, "China, by contrast, is projected to have no fifth-generation aircraft by 2020. And by 2025, the gap only widens," Mr. Gates said.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he did not see "any inconsistency in what the SecDef has said and the DIA assessment."

"In both cases, we don't see any significant fifth generation Chinese fighter capability for next 10 years or so," Mr. Whitman said.

Richard Fisher, a China military-affairs specialist with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the DIA's response to the Chinese general's remarks were comforting.

"But one has to suspect that there is now light between recent DIA assessments and what Secretary Gates said on July 16," Mr. Fisher said. "Secretary Gates basically said that a Chinese fifth generation fighter threat would not materialize well into the 2020s, while the DIA seems to imply that their 'range' of assessments could accept this happening closer to 2020."

For Mr. Fisher, the most important issue is not the quality of U.S. intelligence analysis on Chinese weapons developments, but U.S. leadership.

"The Obama administration convinced the Congress to deny U.S. forces a critical capability, the F-22, in some part due to its assessment of Chinese next-generation fighter capabilities, an assessment that may not have been the 'consensus' within the intelligence community," he said.

"Democracies require informed debate in order to survive. It is appearing that the debate over the termination of F-22 production was not sufficiently informed regarding emerging Chinese capabilities."

Mr. Fisher said some evidence indicates China may have several fifth-generation fighter programs in train and could augment less capable jets with upgrades and advances.

"I doubt that the Chinese are going to limit their force to 187 fifth-generation air-superiority fighters," he said, referring to the Pentagon's limited buy of F-22s.

A U.S. Air Force official involved in the F-35 development program told Aviation Week that the Chinese will "have a difficult road if their design is tied to the J-10," China's indigenous fourth-generation fighter.

The officer said that significantly reducing the new aircraft's radar cross-section will require more than stealth outer coatings. New integrated design and shaping as well as coatings are needed, the officer was quoted as saying in the magazine's Nov. 13 article on the new Chinese jet.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the new jet.

Gay-ban debate
A former Army lawyer instrumental in putting the military policy on homosexuality into law 16 years ago has entered the fray again.

William A. Woodruff had just arrived as a law professor at the Campbell University School of Law in North Carolina when then-President Bill Clinton moved to end the prohibition. Congress revolted and ended up putting the regulation into law, U.S. code Title 10 - with the advice of Mr. Woodruff.

Now President Obama is set to push Congress to repeal that law next year. Mr. Woodruff, who headed the Army's litigation division as a colonel, is weighing in, according to special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.

"I urge you to counsel the president not to adopt a policy that will satisfy his campaign promise at the expense of undermining well-established legal principles governing judicial review of military activities," Mr. Woodruff wrote in an Oct. 30 letter to Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's top civilian lawyer.

Mr. Woodruff worries that if Mr. Obama cannot win Congress' approval, the president will move to lift the ban by executive authority. The president, for example, can exercise what is called "stop loss" - keeping personnel on active duty past their departure date. Anti-ban forces have argued he could use that authority to keep gays in the service.

"Avoiding congressionally established service qualifications through creative lawyering would evidence disrespect and disregard for the legitimate authority of a co-equal branch of government," the professor wrote.

If Mr. Obama goes the executive-authority route, Mr. Woodruff stated, courts might end their long-standing practice of letting the White House and Congress regulate the Armed Forces without significant judicial interference.

In the aftermath, he wrote, "Arguments by government lawyers that the courts should defer to executive and legislative branches in future cases challenging other personnel policies would be disingenuous, unprincipled and hypocritical."

It now appears votes on the policy, known as "don't ask, don't tell," will begin the second half of next year after hearings before the House and Senate Armed Services committees, who control Title 10 laws. Ban foes do not yet have the 218 votes needed in the House.

Military leaders generally have been mum on the issue. The Washington Times reported Nov. 2 that Gen. James. T. Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, has emerged in internal discussions as the most vocal opponent of lifting the ban.

Cornyn on Fort Hood
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, wrote to President Obama this week warning that the attack by accused Fort Hood, Texas, gunman Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is a warning that radical Islamists are seeking to infiltrate both the United States and the U.S. military.

He also suggested that "political correctness" by the government in seeking to accommodate Muslims may have been a contributing factor to missing key clues about the reported shooter.

"We must never allow the safety of those who defend our freedom to be made a secondary priority to political correctness," Mr. Cornyn stated.

Evidence of possible terrorist attacks "must always be run to ground... regardless of whose particular sensitivities might be offended in the process," he said.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has said he is concerned that "diversity" in the Army will be a casualty of the Fort Hood attack.

Mr. Cornyn said numerous investigations of the attack are under way. "Nonetheless its seems increasingly likely that Islamist terrorism is to blame for this senseless attack," he said in the Nov. 16 letter.

"Islamist terrorism represents one of the single most dangerous threats to the national security of the United States," Mr. Cornyn stated.

Al Qaeda terrorists in 1998 issued a decree calling for the killing of Americans, both civilian and military, and a 2006 al Qaeda propaganda video specifically urged terrorists to "go on a shooting spree" at U.S. military facilities.

"As more and more facts surrounding the Fort Hood attack surface, it looks increasingly probable that the alleged attacker, Maj. Nidal Hasan, heeded these terrorist calls to violence, compelled by a fanatical religious ideology," Mr. Cornyn said. "If Islamist terrorism was the driving force behind the senseless violence at Fort Hood, as it seems to be, this attack must serve as a call to action for the federal government."

Mr. Cornyn said Islam "as a whole" should not be blamed for the attack, "yet at the same time we cannot ignore the indisputable fact that some followers of Islam interpret their religion's scriptures and teachings as a mandate for mass murder of innocents."

Chinese, Russian cyberwarfare
The Pentagon's National Defense University recently published a groundbreaking book that is one of the few U.S. government documents to highlight the cyberwarfare capabilities of both China and Russia.

The book "Cyberpower and National Security" contains a chapter on the issue revealing that China's computer attack capabilities have become "more visible and troubling" in recent years. "China has launched an unknown number of cyber reconnaissance and offensive events with unknown intent against a variety of countries," the chapter said.

Among the most important attacks were the 2005 cyber espionage attacks against Pentagon computer networks that federal investigators code-named Titan Rain. Another Chinese-origin attack involved computer operations against the U.S. Naval War College in 2006 that shut down systems.

According to the chapter, China's military strategists regard cyberwarfare as an important element of "pre-emptive" warfare capabilities.

Chinese military analysts Peng Guangqian and Yao Youzhi are quoted as saying China plans to use several types of pre-emptive attacks in a future conflict, including "striking the enemy's information center of gravity and weakening combat efficiency of his information systems and cyberized weapons" with the goal of weakening information superiority and reducing combat efficiency.

China's information-warfare strategy, as outlined in military writings, appears to rely heavily on the use of deception. Cyberwarfare is not simply shutting down networks, but includes such concepts as directing the enemy's thoughts in the wrong direction; using fictitious objects to hide the true battlefield picture; the use of comprehensive deception operations; the release of viruses; and misleading the enemy by pretending to follow his wishes.

Regarding Russian cyberwarfare, the book stated that Russia, like China, has been linked to cyberwarfare attacks around the world, including cyberattacks against the Baltic nation of Estonia.

The book said Moscow's cyberforces are preparing a strategy called "reflexive control" that seeks to use computer attacks to convey false motives and reasons for military operations, with the goal of forcing the enemy to "make a decision unfavorable to itself."

The author of the chapter, Timothy L. Thomas, a specialist at the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., said both Chinese and Russian approaches to cyberwarfare differ sharply from U.S. methods.

"Chinese efforts to move packets of electrons through wires in accordance with 5,000-year-old strategems come immediately to mind, as do Russian attempts to use international organizations to shape the world's understanding of cybertechnologies," Mr. Thomas stated.

A Russian Embassy spokesman had no comment.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman could not be reached for comment. However, embassy spokeswoman Wei Xin in the past has dismissed reports of Chinese cyberwarfare activities. "China is a victim of international hacking activities and never conducts computer network attacks against any other countries," she said.

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