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October 23, 2008
Notes from the Pentagon

China UAV
An internal Chinese government document says China is working to develop an advanced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as part of a strategy to combine civilian and military technology in weapons and nonmilitary equipment.

The document, which was obtained by The Washington Times, is a feasibility report dated July 8 and labeled "National Defense Science and Technology Industry Military and Civilian Dual-Use Research and Development Special Project."

A U.S. official, who spoke on condition he not be named, said the document appears genuine. Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong had no immediate comment on the document.

It states that the goal of the project is to produce a high-altitude, low-speed, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle in two years. The state-run company in charge of the program is a major Chinese weapons manufacturer, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC).

According to the document, civilian uses will include aerial exploration, air-to-ground monitoring and other scientific work. Military applications for the UAV are outlined as "military aerial inspection and detection, electronic warfare and other missions."

"We hope to be able to provide quality, practical products for military and civilian clients in a speedy manner," the document says.

"At present, the United States and Israel have mastered the technology central to this type of aerial vehicle, and they have imposed a technology blockage to other countries and have exerted especially strict control with regard to our country," the document says.

It also states that China needs to "break through the core technologies of this type of aerial vehicle" by using existing technology and international cooperation to boost domestic research efforts to "enhance the military's combat capability."

The UAV program will boost scientific and technical capabilities. "The economic and social benefits will be transformed directly into actual results that reflect the doctrine of 'combining military and civilian and placing military into civilian,'" the report says.

China has purchased Israeli Harpy anti-radar drones that home in on enemy radar with an explosive charge. The drone missiles were first detected by U.S. intelligence agencies deployed near Taiwan in the 1990s.

China also has displayed scale models of planned UAVs at arms shows, including a drone that looks similar to the U.S. jet-powered long-range Global Hawk.

Asia policy lineup
With the presidential election less than two weeks away, the rush is on among national security hands for the strategic positions of China and Asia policy advisers.

Aides to both campaigns say the key positions within the National Security Council staff, the apex of policy coordinating, likely will be chosen from within the ranks of the campaign advisers.

For Democrat Sen. Barack Obama, the chief campaign Asia adviser and likely National Security Council staff director for Asia is Jeff Bader, a former diplomat, NSC staffer and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative official. Mr. Bader has been working to advise Mr. Obama on China and Asia with Richard Bush, the former American Institute in Taiwan director, now with the Brookings Institution, who could become the assistant secretary of state for East Asia.

Several of the Obama China hands are working for the international consulting firm Stonebridge International LLC, headed by former Clinton administration national security adviser Samuel Berger. Among them is Stonebridge China specialist and University of Michigan professor Kenneth Lieberthal, former NSC staff director for Asia during the Clinton administration, who could be brought back into government. Wendy Sherman, an ambassador and senior aide to former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, is also a key Asia adviser to Mr. Obama.

Asked how an Obama administration would deal with China, Ms. Sherman said in an interview that the senator thinks the United States needs to be "actively engaged" with China and at the same time Beijing should be pressed to follow through on its international obligations.

"[Mr. Obama] believes we need to remain vigilant on China's military modernization, but he doesn't want to demonize China," she said. "He believes we need a constructive relationship with China."

Mr. Obama also thinks the United States did not do enough to pressure China on its human-rights abuses in Tibet after the riots that took place there last summer, she said.

One indicator that an Obama administration might be tougher on China than the Bush administration is that Mr. Obama's senior adviser, Greg Craig, is likely to be named White House chief of staff. Mr. Craig, a longtime defense and foreign-policy aide to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, was appointed in 1997 as a special coordinator for Tibet to deal with Chinese repression.

For Sen. John McCain, key national security aides who could oversee China policy include Randy Scheunemann, director of foreign policy and national security for the campaign, and Michael Green, a former NSC Asia staff director during the Bush administration. Also involved with China affairs is Richard Williamson, who was a special envoy to Sudan under the Bush administration and held several key State Department posts.

Dan Blumenthal, a conservative and former Pentagon China policy official now with the American Enterprise Institute, is also a McCain Asia adviser, along with Richard Fontaine, a Senate staffer to Mr. McCain.

Randy Shriver, who is with former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's consulting group, Armitage Associates, is also part of the McCain Asia policy brain trust. Mr. Shriver was a China policymaker at the State Department and Pentagon.

Mr. Shriver's role in the campaign has raised concerns among some conservatives that Mr. Armitage might come back into government after his stint as deputy secretary of state in the first Bush term. However, Mr. Armitage has not had any formal or informal role in the campaign, Inside the Ring has learned. "One hopes he is a McCain supporter," said a Republican congressional aide, referring to the decision by Mr. Armitage's close friend, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, to endorse Mr. Obama this week.

An associate of Mr. Armitage's said he is supporting Mr. McCain.

Southeast Asia specialists on the McCain team include Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment and Lisa Curtis and Walter Lohman, both with the Heritage Foundation.

Gates' letters
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday that he has signed more than 1,000 letters of condolence to the families of casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Asked during a Pentagon Channel interview how the task has affected him, Mr. Gates said: "What was really important to me from the very beginning [is] that the fallen not become statistics, and so in addition to signing each of the condolence letters, I hand-write a note on each of them."

Mr. Gates also said he wanted to see photos of each service member and any local newspapers stories about the war casualty. "I want to get to know every one of these people and the sacrifice that they've made," he said.

"I don't think you can do this without it changing you. I'd like to think that it made me a little better."

  • Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at

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