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Intelligence Disciplines Begin to Merge

September 22, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

The growing customer list for defense intelligence is blurring traditional lines of distinction among activities and missions.

Space, Cyberspace Are Stealth Threats to U.S.

September 19, 2014
By Robert K. Ackerman

Other threats to the United States may make daily headlines, but space and cyberspace are below the public radar while at the top of many lists of concerns.

Gillette Assigne as Defense Attaché-China

Brig. Gen. Mark W. Gillette, USA, has been assigned defense attaché-China, U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, China.

Chinese Navy Leads Country’s Reach Into the Pacific

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is serving as the primary vehicle to extend China’s influence deeper away from its borders. New and improved capabilities have transformed the navy into a force that can take on increasingly complex and distant military roles.

“The PLAN is at the tip of the Chinese spear,” said Dr. David M. Finkelstein, vice president and director, China studies, Center for Naval Analyses. Finkelstein was moderating a panel on the Chinese navy at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Other panelists offered their own assessments of the PLAN and its role in Chinese foreign affairs.

Capt. Jim Fanell, USN, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that the PLAN has become a very capable fighting force. PLAN maneuvers increasingly are about countering the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“Make no mistake: the PLAN is focused on war at sea and sinking an opposing fleet,” Capt. Fanell said.

Dr. Toshi Yoshihara, professor and John A. van Beuren chair of Asia-Pacific Studies, Strategy and Policy, Naval War College, said that the key operational challenge is China’s family of land- and sea-based antiship missiles. China has been theorizing about the combined use of different missiles in antiship warfare for more than a decade, he related.

The PLAN has an anticarrier fleet, and it is considering broadening its strategy, Yoshihara added. He noted that China’s constant harassment of Japanese ships is introducing operational fatigue in Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and its coast guard.

China Behavior Increasingly Troublesome to Neighbors

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

As the People’s Republic of China grows in economic and military stature, it is generating ill will among neighbors who increasingly fear an expansionist budding superpower. Ironically, the greatest effect this is having on the Asia-Pacific region is that it is driving many nations into the arms of the United States.

This was just one of many observations offered by a panel on China at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. A mix of academics and military officers offered different perspectives on where China might be headed in the coming years.

Capt. Jim Fanell, USN, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that China has taken control of areas outside its borders that never have been administered to, or controlled by, any government of China in recent history. China’s coastal cutters seem to have no other mission than to harass others to submit to its territorial claims. The result is that the countries of East Asia “now remember why they like the United States,” he said.

Dr. Jacqueline Deal, president and chief executive officer, Long-Term Strategy Group, related how China’s foreign minister told then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that, “there are great powers, and there are small powers—and that’s a fact.” This statement amounted to tacit approval for the Middle Kingdom to push its neighbors around, Deal said.

Maj. Christopher I. Johnson, USMC, Olmsted scholar, Hong Kong University, and logistics officer, Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., observed that China’s leaders believe in hard power—“you cannot export soft power.” Yet, Johnson believes that China currently is a competitor, not an enemy.

China's Long-Term Plans May Lack Vision

January 26, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman

The dynamic modernization of China's economy and society may owe more to momentum than careful planning. Dr. Xinjun Zhang, associate professor of public international law, Tsinghua University, Beijing, offered that he believes that China does not have a vision guiding the massive changes that define China today. Zhang offered that China's current policies have emerged from Deng Xiaoping's approaches, which he implied were a bit too pragmatic. Speaking at a policy panel that included former U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret), and moderated by former Good Morning America host David Hartman, Zhang said a lack of vision has plagued much of Chinese policy. This extended to the lack of progress on reunifying Taiwan with the mainland. While not claiming to be a Maoist, Zhang did praise People's Republic of China founder Mao Zedong for his vision. Zhang even said that if Mao were to return, he would come up with a solution for reunification. Zhang warned against pressuring China on human rights and other internal policies. China has "a very complicated government," he said, as it tries to run a diverse country rife with different ethnic groups and languages. Maintaining stability is important both to China and to the rest of the world. "I cannot imagine the consequence to the globe without a stable ruling government in China," Zhang declared.

Two Giant Pacific Powers Cannot See Eye-to-Eye

January 26, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman

China and the United States are plagued by a "strategic mistrust" that hinders relations between the two. That statement was made by Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, in a panel discussion with Dr. Xinjun Zhang, associate professor of public international law, Tsinghua University, Beijing, that was moderated by former Good Morning America host David Hartman. To the audience, that strategic mistrust was evident in the exchange of comments between Zhang and Adm. Keating throughout the panel. Both expressed their country's points of view in direct opposition to each other's. Despite an amicable atmosphere, the two men expressed diametrically opposed views even when they shared the same policy goals. Adm. Keating called for greater understanding through transparency and communication, while Zhang said that China feels threatened by U.S. surveillance ships and aircraft at the edge of its territory. Perhaps issues with North Korea personified the differences best. Both men agreed that their countries' policies aimed at having a non-nuclear Korean peninsula, and both agreed that removing nuclear weapons development from North Korea was essential. However, Adm. Keating emphasized the urgency of quick action before North Korea developed an effective nuclear arsenal, while Zhang called for patience to maintain stability while all sides worked toward the same goal.

China Shifts Strategy in the Ocean

May 11, 2010
By Rachel Eisenhower

Tuesday morning's panel at Joint Warfighting 2010 examined how the cards are being stacked when it comes to global power. Some of them aren't falling exactly where one might think. As these issues progress, will it force more cooperation with powers like China?

China, U.S. in Long March Toward Possible Confrontation

November 4, 2009
By Robert K. Ackerman

China and the United States are constantly redefining their relationship in a dynamic that could lead to conflict if both sides are not careful, according to a leading U.S. Asia-Pacific expert.

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