U.S. Pa­cific com­mand cites Chi­nese hack­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Bill Gertz

HONOLULU — Se­nior mil­i­tary com­man­ders at the U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand here said China’s re­cent test of an anti-satel­lite weapon and in­creased com­puter-hack­ing ac­tiv­i­ties prompted in­creased de­fenses for U.S. forces in the re­gion and in space.

“U.S. space ca­pa­bil­i­ties are an asym­met­ric ad­van­tage that we have to main­tain,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf, deputy com­man­der of the U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand.

“There has been sig­nif­i­cant dis­cus­sion and ac­tiv­ity to as­sess the im­pact of [the anti-satel­lite test] and other [Chi­nese] space de­vel­op­ments, and how to pro­tect our ex-

traor­di­nar­ily im­por­tant space ca­pa­bil­ity,” he said in an in­ter­view at the com­mand’s head­quar­ters at Camp H.M. Smith.

Pen­tagon of­fi­cials have said Chi­nese mil­i­tary hack­ers in re­cent months car­ried out com­put­er­based at­tacks on Pen­tagon and U.S. mil­i­tary and civil­ian gov­ern­ment com­puter net­works, as well as on for­eign gov­ern­ment net­works.

With­out nam­ing China, Gen. Leaf said the prob­lem of com­puter at­tacks is grow­ing.

“We’re very con­cerned about that — for the in­for­ma­tion that may be con­tained on [the net­works] or for the ac­tiv­i­ties we con­duct that are com­mand and con­trol and sit­u­a­tional aware­ness re­lated.”

De­tails of re­cent com­puter at­tacks, in­clud­ing those on Pa­cific Com­mand net­works, are clas­si­fied, Gen. Leaf said. But the is­sue was raised in meet­ings with Chi­nese mil­i­tary of­fi­cials.

“We ex­pect ac­tions that are con­sis­tent with the pro­fessed de­sire for a peace­ful, re­spon­si­ble rise of China as a more sig­nif­i­cant player on the Pa­cific and world stage,” he said.

Chi­nese mil­i­tary com­puter at­tacks “would not be con­sis­tent” with Bei­jing’s claim to be a peace­ful ris­ing power, he said.

Air Force Gen. Paul Hester, com­man­der of U.S. air forces in the Pa­cific, said in a sep­a­rate in­ter­view that China’s anti-satel­lite weapons and com­puter hack­ing are be­ing watched closely.

“Cy­ber is a place where we are grow­ing to learn where the dan­gers are,” he said in his of­fice at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

Of the Jan­uary anti-satel­lite weapons test by China, Gen. Hester said, “This new, out-of-the-blue test by China was cer­tainly not ex­pected. Does it change the equa­tion? Ab­so­lutely. They’ve demon­strated the ca­pa­bil­ity.”

Gen. Hester said he is con­cerned that such anti-satel­lite weapons could be used to dis­rupt U.S. mili- tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions with com­man­ders in Ja­pan and South Korea.

“We are fo­cused in­tently on that to make sure that the as­sur­ance of satel­lites and the pro­tec­tion of satel­lites is ro­bust,” he said.

Gen. Leaf also dis­cussed the Pen­tagon’s new “hedge” strat­egy of con­tin­u­ing to en­gage Bei­jing but pre­par­ing for a war if China turns hos­tile in the fu­ture.

“If there is a sig­nif­i­cant mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity in the re­gion and the Chi­nese have a sig­nif­i­cant mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity, we can­not al­low that or any other mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity to out­strip us to the point where we’re not ef­fec­tive,” Gen. Leaf said.

U.S. forces in the Pa­cific are un­der­go­ing a re­struc­tur­ing that in­cludes more ships, sub­marines and bombers at bases at Guam and Hawaii; larger mil­i­tary ex­er­cises; and closer al­liances.

Gen. Leaf said the force re­struc­tur­ing will pro­duce more pow­er­ful and flexible mil­i­tary forces that also could be used in con­flicts in the Tai­wan Strait or on the Korean Penin­sula, adding that “this re­gion de­mands that flex­i­bil­ity.”

Gen. Leaf said the Pen­tagon’s mil­i­tary-ex­change pro­gram with China “has not been ev­ery­thing we hoped.”

“But we still have found sig­nif­i­cant value from it in the sim­ple re­gard of build­ing some re­la­tion­ships that will re­duce the po­ten­tial mis­un­der­stand­ing,” he said.

Gen. Hester also said the risk of a Chi­nese mis­cal­cu­la­tion lead­ing to war is a con­cern.

Just as NATO mil­i­tary ex­er­cises dur­ing the Cold War were meant as a sig­nal of strength to the Soviet Union, “from our re­la­tion­ship over here, we want to make sure no one mis­cal­cu­lates” by un­der­es­ti­mat­ing U.S. mil­i­tary strength, Gen. Hester said.

Chi­nese mil­i­tary vis­i­tors have been shown brief­ings on U.S. and al­lied ex­er­cises and the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the B-2 bombers to help show them who we are,” Gen. Hester said.

One el­e­ment of the Pen­tagon’s China hedge strat­egy is to de­velop a long-range strike bomber that could be used to hit tar­gets deep inside China.

Gen. Hester said Pa­cific Air Forces need the bomber, which could be de­vel­oped and de­ployed by 2018.

“If, in the most egre­gious part of our busi­ness, which is where you shoot at peo­ple, or drop bombs on peo­ple in anger, then clearly be­ing able to carry large pay­loads, long dis­tances to strike tar­gets in the Pa­cific is very im­por­tant to me,” he said.

Gen. Leaf said the Pa­cific Com­mand is work­ing very hard to “pre­vent a con­flict in the Tai­wan Strait” through help­ing Tai­wan bol­ster its mil­i­tary forces.

“In my es­ti­ma­tion, Tai­wan has, in fact, done rea­son­ably well in en­hanc­ing their de­fen­sive pos­ture” in the past two years, Gen. Leaf said.

Ten­sions will re­main be­tween China and Tai­wan un­til the dis­pute over Tai­wan’s sta­tus is re­solved. China con­sid­ers Tai­wan, for­mally known as the Repub­lic of China, a break­away prov­ince.

“And I’m not will­ing to spec­u­late when that will come so for now they need [a] prop­erly pre­pared de­fen­sive pos­ture,” Gen. Leaf said.

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