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Oct. 5, 2023
Notes from the Pentagon

Congress to press Pentagon on Chinese logistics threat

By Bill Gertz
A bill being considered on Capitol Hill would require the Pentagon to report to Congress by the end of the year regarding the dangers of Chinese control over global logistics networks that could affect U.S. military resupplies in a future U.S.-China crisis or conflict.

The Senate Armed Services Committee said in its version of the fiscal 2024 defense authorization bill that Chinese controls over logistics and data networks pose a national security threat.

“The committee is concerned about the People’s Republic of China’s increasing ownership and operations of major logistics and infrastructure hubs throughout the world, which poses a significant threat to the ability of the United States to secure critical lines of communication and project power,” the report on the Senate legislation states.

The Pentagon is studying ways to use commercial technology to mitigate the dangers. As a result, senators want Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to produce a report on the issue for Congress by Dec. 1. The report would include a list of all logistics and infrastructure hubs around the world owned or operated by Chinese interests.

The study would also list policies and programs undertaken by the Pentagon to address the concerns and whether they have been successful.

The Pentagon would be required to survey commercial capabilities that would assist in providing information, interdiction and mitigation of Chinese logistics threats, and whether the defense funds and authorities could be used for more secure logistics projects that “would assist in addressing threats posed by the People’s Republic of China.”

China has built an impressive network of port facilities and logistics companies around the world, including China Cosco Shipping Corp. and China Merchants Group Ltd., as well as the Chinese cargo-data network Logink, which collects information on freight and shipping lines in China and globally.

The congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission warned last year that China‘s Ministry of Transportation oversees Logink and that the service poses a national security threat because of its access to sensitive cargo and shipping data. Logink uses a combination of public databases and information from more than 450,000 users in China and at dozens of ports worldwide, including those linked to Beijing’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Critics have raised security concerns about Chinese commercial port facilities for decades, concerns that were highlighted when a Chinese port company began running port facilities at both ends of the Panama Canal.

Today, China is expanding a network of more than 95 port facilities around the world and is working to establish a system of overseas military bases that analysts say will be used to back President Xi Jinping’s announced ambition for global dominance.

“Widespread use of Logink could expand the Chinese government’s power and influence and pose commercial and strategic risks to the United States,” the commission report said.

Under Chinese law, all companies in China are required to provide information to the military and intelligence services.

The defense authorization bill is in a House-Senate conference, and the final version is expected to include the Pentagon reporting provision.

Dogfighting charges rock Pentagon
By day, Frederick D. Moorefield Jr. was one of the Pentagon‘s top information officers, working directly for the secretary of defense. Off-duty, federal prosecutors say, he ran a vicious dogfighting ring for 20 years that electrocuted battered pit bulls when they could no longer perform.

Court documents say Mr. Moorefield in one instance disposed of wounded, scarred and dead dogs in trash bags left on the side of the road in Annapolis. The bags included mail addressed to him.

“I believe the dogs were killed during the fight or that Moorefield killed each of them afterwards for performing poorly,” an FBI agent wrote in a court affidavit.

Mr. Moorefield turned his home in Arnold, Maryland, home into a place of horrors to breed, train, fight and kill pit bulls, investigators allege. The FBI court affidavit quoted an intercepted communication from Mr. Moorefield as he tried to arrange a fight and bet $3,000 on his pit bull.

Mr. Moorefield said: “You got anything hot to look at yo. … I got two males and two hoes. … 40 m 40 b 35 m 35 b.”

Mr. Moorefield’s brutal side job was alleged this week by Maryland U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron in a federal criminal complaint. It said Mr. Moorefield operated the illegal fight club on encrypted Telegram messaging as “Geehad Kennels.” His partner, Mario Damon Flythe, a barber who like Mr. Moorefield lives in Arnold, went by the handle “Razor Sharp Kennels,” according to the complaint.

When charged in September, Mr. Moorefield held the title of deputy chief information officer for command and control and communications. A Defense Department link to his biography leads to profiles of the Pentagon‘s chief information officer directors. Mr. Moorefield, a career department official, is no longer listed.

The Justice Department statement revealed the cruelty of the operation.

“On September 6, 2023, law enforcement officers executed search warrants at Moorefield and Flythe’s residences in Maryland. Following the execution of these warrants, twelve dogs were recovered and seized by the federal government. Law enforcement also recovered veterinary steroids, training schedules, a carpet that appeared to be stained with blood, and a weighted dog vest with a patch reading ‘Geehad Kennels.’”

“In addition, law enforcement officers seized a device consisting of an electrical plug and jumper cables, which the affidavit alleges is consistent with devices used to execute dogs that lose dogfights.”

The FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court said Mr. Moorefield’s name turned up in 2022 when authorities cracked a large dogfighting operation in Virginia that called itself the “DMV Board.” Messaging app discussions included exchanging ideas on how best to kill losing dogs.

The affidavit gave this gruesome detail: A dog belonging to Mr. Moorefield lost a one-hour, 13-minute fight, at which point it was so torn up it could not move.

Mr. Moorefield appeared before a U.S. magistrate on Sept. 28 and was released under supervision.

Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh, citing personnel privacy rules, told reporters Tuesday she could only “confirm that [Mr. Moorefield] is no longer in the workplace” at the Defense Department.

As for his job, Ms. Singh would say only, “That role is vacant right now.”

Recent Chinese drills near Taiwan deemed ‘abnormal’
The Chinese military’s recent military activities near Taiwan were different and “abnormal” compared with past demonstrations, according to Taiwan’s defense minister and military analysts.

Last month, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told reporters in Taipei that recent Chinese military movements around Taiwan were unusually intense.

“Our initial analysis is that they are doing joint drills in September, including land, sea, air and amphibious,” Mr. Chiu said in response to questions about the increase in Chinese military activities, which include dozens of warplanes, drones, bombers and warships.

One of the unusual features of the recent war games was the Chinese army’s use of civilian ferries in mock military operations along its east coast, Taiwanese officials said.

Six roll-on/roll-off — or “RoRo” — vessels linked to the People’s Liberation Army were spotted conducting drills on Chinese beaches in the Taiwan Strait at Xiamen on the Fujian province coast opposite Taiwan. Such ships would be used in a cross-strait amphibious operation that U.S. military commanders have said could be conducted in the next four years.

Ely Ratner, assistant defense secretary for Indo-Pacific security affairs, recently told Congress that the Pentagon is upgrading defenses in the region and spending tens of billions of dollars on new weapons and systems to prepare for a Chinese attack on Taiwan.

“The continued maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait will require heightened urgency, attention and resources in the critical years ahead,” he told the House Armed Services Committee.

Chieh Chung, a military researcher at Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation think tank, told Radio Free Asia that China‘s mid-September exercises included 17 warships, including the aircraft carrier Shandong, for “large-scale confrontational exercises.”

“That’s not like previous exercises in past years. It’s indeed unusual,” he said.

• Rowan Scarborough contributed to this story.

  • Contact Bill Gertz on Twitter via @BillGertz.

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