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June 8, 2001

Notes from the Pentagon

China tests ALCM
China test-fired a new air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) for the first time last month, according to U.S. intelligence officials. The weapon, China´s first land-attack cruise missile, is Beijing´s answer to the ship-launched U.S. Tomahawk.

The ground-hugging, air-to-surface missile was launched from a B-6 bomber and was deemed successful by defense and intelligence agencies, according to officials familiar with the test.

The missile is assessed to be capable of carrying a 1,100-pound warhead -- either high-explosive or nuclear to an unknown range. It was the first time China test-fired its new land-attack cruise missile.

Military analysts said China has been working secretly on the cruise missile, which is an extended-range version of the C-802 anti-ship missile. The missile is said to be powered by a turbojet engine and is expected to have a range of at least 111 miles.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on the Chinese military with the private Jamestown Foundation, said his research has shown the new ALCM will have “substantial range” and will be fitted with television-camera precision guidance.

Mr. Fisher said the new missile has been dubbed variously the “Hong Niao,” or Red Bird, and “Chang Feng,” or Long Wind. The missile is said to be a hybrid of three missiles: the Russian Kh-55 cruise missile, the Tomahawk <\m> obtained clandestinely from recent U.S. attacks -- and a cruise missile purchased from Israel.

“This has been expected for some time,” said Mr. Fisher, who is writing a book on the Chinese military. China is said by defense officials to be aggressively developing a land-attack cruise missile capability to match the U.S. Navy´s famed Tomahawk and Air Force´s ALCM. It has been receiving assistance in the program from Russia, which has provided hardware and technical assistance.

The Air Force recently moved a stockpile of ALCMs to Guam for the first time to make the missiles more available for use in a regional conflict.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman declined to comment on the test. But he said: “Like many countries, China is developing an air-launched, land-attack cruise missile capability.”

Russia deploys boomer
The Russian navy deployed a nuclear-missile submarine in the Pacific Ocean for the first time in months, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

The Delta-III class submarine was traced leaving port at Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula by U.S. intelligence agencies, as it headed for deeper Pacific waters. It is the first such deployment in almost a year, reflecting the Russian Pacific fleet´s poor state of readiness.

The Delta-III carries 16 SSN-18 long-range missiles -- each with between three and seven nuclear warheads.

Strategy update
The Pentagon´s Andrew Marshall has completed a 20- to 30-page outline of a potential new national military strategy. But the net assessment director´s work is not done.

Insiders tell us Mr. Marshall´s staff is working on a half-dozen “supporting papers” that focus on specific issues, such as the size of the 1.36 million active duty force and 865,000 Guardsmen and reservists. While the Marshall strategy paper is “almost philosophical,” the augmenting papers will make recommendations, an official said. The services and the staff of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld embarked last month on writing the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which will spell out the strategy, global military requirements, and the size of force needed to carry it out. Officials expect Mr. Rumsfeld to decide later this month on whether to retain or amend the current two-war requirement.

Mr. Rumsfeld was asked this week what he doesn´t like about the two-war requirement. He said in part: “If you´re constantly looking at the two major regional conflicts, then look over the last period of years, you will see that there have been deficiencies in funding for infrastructure. There have been deficiencies in funding for pay, deficiencies in funding for maintenance and repairs.

“Now you can´t come into this fresh from Chicago [...] and not ask yourself the question, what is it about the interaction, the process, within and among the department and all of the various transmission belts for decision, and the Congress <\m> that leaves a military that has that many problems, with something as important as the human beings that populate the defense establishment.”

NRO chief under fire
An internal audit of the National Reconnaissance Office has found further abuses of the secret spy satellite agency´s multibillion-dollar budget, we are told.

The office builds and operates the U.S. government´s constellation of high-technology photographic and electronic-eavesdropping satellites. Its space-based cameras are said to be able to read car license plates from hundreds of miles in orbit.

NRO´s two top officials were fired in 1996 for mismanagement of a pot of $2 billion in reserve funding for emergency satellite launches.

This time, current NRO Director Keith Hall, a holdover from the Clinton administration, is said to be scrambling to explain similar budget mismanagement problems at the agency. “Any CEO of a major corporation that did this would be fired,” one source told us.

Details of the mismanagement problems could not be learned. Mr. Hall could not be reached for comment. Intercepts

  • Robert Andrews for years has played the role of Washington insider. He´s been a CIA intelligence officer, Senate staffer, defense industry executive and, most recently, a novelist.

    Now Mr. Andrews, a Green Beret in Vietnam, is returning to government. The Bush White House, we are told, plans to nominate him as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict. The White House is also eyeing Michelle K. Van Cleave as the assistant secretary.

  • As this column predicted last week, new Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, gave Bush defense nominees a working over at Tuesday´s confirmation hearing. Congressional insiders say the liberal senator is looking for a basis to block the confirmation of two conservative thinkers: Douglas J. Feith, nominated for undersecretary of defense for policy; and J.D. Crouch II, nominated as assistant secretary of defense for international security policy.

    A spokeswoman for Mr. Levin said the senator has submitted further written questions to the two and will decide on whether to oppose the nominations after reviewing the answers.

  • Retired Gen. Thomas Moorman, a former Air Force vice chief of staff, is in line to become the next director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He would replace current NASA Director Dan Goldin.

  • The four services are executing a “budget drill” this week. At a furious work pace, budgeteers are forwarding increased funding request to the office of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for the fiscal 2002 budget. The White House has told the department it will approve up to $30 billion in spending, in addition to the pending $310 billion budget.

    We´ve seen the Air Force´s request in a three-page Power Point slide sent to Mr. Rumsfeld´s staff Tuesday night. It wants $12.8 billion for readiness and modernization alone. Sources tell us the lion´s share of the president´s 2002 augmentation will go for health care and improved living conditions.

  • Navy Secretary Gordon England sent his first message to the fleet June 1, trying to soothe fears about President Bush´s impending military transformation.

    “The president and secretary of defense have indicated this is a time of change,” Mr. England said. “I ask that each of you join me and them, bringing your talents, innovative thoughts and experience to bear in transforming the way we do business, in order to meet our commitments, now and in the future.

    “I know the Navy and Marine Corps team has a strong sense of our core values of honor, courage and commitment. In that vein, we should at all times conduct our business in a forthright, open, honest and direct manner both with each other and the public. [...] We will simplify the acquisition system, streamline the bureaucratic decision-making processes, [and] promote innovation throughout the Department of the Navy.”

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at

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