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May 18, 2007
Notes from the Pentagon

F-22 delay
Pro-China officials in the White House and Pentagon are quietly undermining Japan's request to buy 50 advanced F-22 jet fighter-bombers, to avoid upsetting Beijing's government, according to U.S. officials familiar with the dispute.

Japan's Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma made a formal request to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates earlier this month for classified technical data on the jet, as a first step toward a purchase.

The Japanese view the advanced warplane as a key element of a military modernization needed to counter current missile threats from North Korea and a longer-term threat from China.

Air Force officials and defense industry officials, however, said officials at the National Security Council and within the office of the secretary of defense are opposing the sale, and plan to delay acting on Japan's request until after a September deadline, when Tokyo will then be forced to look for other jets to upgrade its aging aircraft arsenal.

Dennis Wilder, the NSC staff China specialist, declined to endorse the F-22 for Japan days before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe first raised the sale with President Bush at the White House. Mr. Wilder told reporters at the time it was an "open question" to be left for experts on the type of U.S. aircraft sold to Japan.

China opposes F-22 sales since the ultra-modern fighter-bomber can carry large numbers of precision guided bombs, can hit targets at long ranges, and has anti-radar stealth that can evade all of China's air defenses.

Both the Air Force and the F-22 manufacturer, Lockheed Martin Corp., favor building an export version of the F-22 to reduce unit costs, now estimated to be around $150 million per jet, and to bolster the alliance with Japan. South Korea, Australia and Israel also are interested in buying the F-22.

Congress will first need to change legislation to permit foreign sales, but the administration so far has not taken any steps to seek a lifting of the ban.

The F-22 export is a major test of U.S. support for Japan and is being watched closely by Japanese government officials who are worried Washington will not back Tokyo and instead kow-tow to Beijing on the sale.

A Pentagon spokesmen said U.S. law prohibits sales of F-22s abroad. A White House spokesman had no immediate comment.

Iran missile threat
Army Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell said this week the threat from Iran's missiles is growing and that the United States needs a third anti-missile intercepter site in Europe to counter it.

Gen. Campbell told a breakfast meeting of defense specialists sponsored by the National Defense University Foundation and National Defense Industrial Association that Iran is "in a sprint" to build intercontinental-range missiles to complement its current arsenal of short- and medium-range missiles.

Gen. Campbell said a failure to deploy a third ground-based interceptor site in Poland and the Czech Republic would undermine "the renewed dedication to missile defense" on the part of U.S. allies.

Russia's government opposes the site, despite repeated claims by U.S. officials that the site will not pose a threat to Moscow's missile arsenal.

The Iranian long-range missile program could be "slowed down" if the United States lessens the value of those missiles "through the deployment of missile defenses," the three-star general said.

The Iranian missile threat prompted two states within range of Iran's missiles to contact the United States this week about acquiring missile defenses, including a key Persian Gulf state and a nation in the southern Caucasus.

Green estimate
Pentagon officials are questioning Congress' wisdom in ordering the U.S. intelligence community to conduct analysis of national security threats posed by environmental issues during a time of war.

"For a country at war I find this expedient pandering of the first order," one official said of what's being disparagingly called the Green Estimate.

Gathering intelligence and producing analysis on how humans are trashing the planet is likely to reflect the general liberal bias within the intelligence community. The result is expected to be a harsh assessment of how the industrialized nations, particularly the United States and Europe, are to blame.

"Let's all be honest about the biggest polluter and most careless custodian of mother Earth, the PRC," the defense official said of China, where seven of the 10 largest rivers are "dead" from pollution.

Will U.S. intelligence agencies, which have been deficient in intelligence reporting on China's military buildup, report accurately on Beijing's pollution and contribution to greenhouse gases and global warming?

Don't count on it, the officials said. Liberal environmentalists in Congress and the private sector will probably make sure that the intelligence reports on global warming avoid criticizing the communist regime in Beijing, which recently announced that economic modernization still trumps any concerns over Chinese pollution.

A provision of the fiscal 2008 intelligence authorization bill calls for the director of national intelligence to produce a "national intelligence estimate" on global climate change within nine months.

Rumsfeld update
Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has moved to new offices on M Street Northwest where he is working on setting up a new foundation, according to Larry Di Rita, a former Pentagon spokesman and Rumsfeld aide.

Mr. Di Rita said a news report that Mr. Rumsfeld would go into the defense contracting business is false and "laughable." He noted that Mr. Rumsfeld has shunned the defense industry since the 1970s, after his first stint as defense secretary. "He has no interest in that stuff," he said.

Instead, Mr. Rumsfeld, who until recently worked in office space in Rosslyn during a transition from the Pentagon post, has set up DHR Holdings LLC.

"He's considering a lot of things but he wants to remain engaged in public policy issues and is in the process of creating a foundation that would involve teaching and research fellowships for graduate and post-graduate students," Mr. Di Rita said.

The goal is to promote continued U.S. engagement in world affairs in furtherance of U.S. security interests, Mr. Di Rita said.

Mr. Rumsfeld has not decided on writing his memoirs, but if he does, all proceeds would go to support the foundation, he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld divides his time between a residence in Washington, a home on the Eastern Shore and a ranch in Taos, New Mexico.

  • Bill Gertz covers the Pentagon. He can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at

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