Inside the Ring: Blunt warning on China


By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times @

A senior Navy intelligence official issued a blunt warning last week that China’s growing “hegemonistic” threat to security is destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region.

“Make no mistake, the [Chinese] navy is focused on war at sea and about sinking an opposing fleet,” said Capt. James Fanell, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations at the U.S. Pacific Fleet, at a defense conference in San Diego on Jan. 31.

The comments come amid growing tensions between Japan and China over Chinese claims to the Senkaku Islands, near Okinawa and Taiwan, as well as increasing Chinese military assertiveness in the South China Sea.

China’s navy is escalating efforts to gain control of what Beijing calls “near seas” by using “civil proxy” maritime security ships, Capt. Fanell said.

“They now regularly challenge exclusive economic-zone resource rights that South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam once thought were guaranteed to them by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.

The Chinese naval harassment expanded outward over time to cover most of the South China Sea and East China Sea.

China is challenging other nations’ rights,” he said, under the rubric of “what’s mine is mine, and we’ll negotiate what’s yours.”

China now has eight military installations on seven reefs in the Spratly islands, claimed by the Philippines.

Chinese surveillance ships in the region “have no other mission but to harass other nations into submitting to China’s claims,” Capt. Fanell said, noting that for Beijing, the sea- surveillance agency is “a full-time maritime sovereignty harassment organization” with no other mission.

Capt. Fanell said his use of terms “expansion” and “expand” to describe Chinese activities might be considered controversial and could be used by critics to promote the caricature of a Pentagon that is promoting what China calls the “China threat theory.”

“But for those of us who have watched this on a daily basis over the last decade, there is no better description for what China has been doing,” he said.

China’s seizure last year of Scarborough Shoal, a reef claimed by the Philippines, is a clear example of “Chinese aggression,” he said, adding that, in carrying out the aggression, China “bullies its adversary” as part of a careful series of actions and statements.

“Predictably, China’s conduct is destabilizing the East Asia maritime environment,” he said.

Chinese aggressiveness has increased the welcome for the U.S. Navy by all states in the region concerned about “a hegemonic China,” he said.

“We now have more places to send ships than we have ships to send them,” he added.

China should become a non-threatening power, “not the mistrusted principal threat it’s become,” Capt. Fanell said.

China’s rapidly modernizing naval forces have expanded sea zones of control in the past five years. The result is that Chinese navy ships moved from operating in “near seas” — areas close to China’s coasts — into “distant seas” that include international waters, Capt. Fanell said at the U.S. Naval Institute conference

“The expansion into blue waters are largely about countering the U.S. Pacific Fleet,” he said, noting that the Chinese navy has become a “very capable fighting force.”

In 2012, China sent seven surface-action groups and the largest number of submarines into the Philippine Sea in China’s history, Capt. Fanell said.

A defense official compared Capt. Fanell to Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, an iconoclastic Army officer who in 1997 criticized senior military brass in a book on the Vietnam War that many thought ended his career. However, Gen. McMaster was protected from cautious military bureaucrats by other out-of-the-box thinkers such as Gen. David H. Petraeus.

“Showing such intellectual courage should count,” the defense official said of Capt. Fanell, “and his career should be protected by senior officers.”

Real time cybersecurity

Amid growing reports that Chinese hackers attacked U.S. newspapers and the Energy Department, a security startup company recently announced it is offering new technology that its founders say can detect cyberattacks and counter them in real time.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company TaaSERA Inc. last week launched the new cyberattack detection software that can identify normally unseen cyberstrikes as they take place, a key advantage that could allow stopping electronic attacks before information is stolen or networks compromised.

They key difference for the new software is that it operates inside networks — not on the perimeter — and has shown unique capabilities for spotting attacks.

The company also is providing a threat-intelligence data system that allows the identification of suspicious network behavior to be reported faster than current security systems.

Company executives disclosed details of the new software during a recent interview with Inside the Ring.

“Attack points are increasing, and trying to stop them with firewall or anti-virus software is really not an effective defense any more,” said Srinivas Kumar, the company’s chief technology officer.

Cyberattackers know how to hide their identities and gain the “trust” of anti-virus software.

Real-time monitoring allows attacks to be thwarted rapidly, Mr. Kumar added.

David C. Nevin, a senior TaaSERA executive, said the company’s threat-reporting system mines data and identifies who is attacking and where their attacks originate.

“The most prevalent country attacking government institutions is China,” Mr. Nevin said.

“But it’s different if you start looking at the financial sector,” he said. “There it’s Russia, and frankly it’s the United States as well. And, in particular, Long Island seems to have a very high prevalence of attackers hitting the financial sector.”

CEO C. Scott Hartz, said the software is being sold to government customers, the financial-services industry, public utilities and other critical infrastructure, as well as the health care industry and retail businesses that use credit cards.

“We have a stream of threat intelligence that identifies the bad things that are out there in the world,” Mr. Hartz said.

The software was developed over the past five years and licensed from SRI International. It is currently in use at a number of government agencies that use the real-time anti-cyberattack monitoring system.

Air Force adds gay lawyers

Political correctness in the Air Force reached new heights this month when the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps announced plans to hire gay lawyers as part of its diversity program.

The Corps “values diversity as one of the great strengths, and to that end aggressively takes part in all manner of outreach and recruiting at national diversity-related events,” Air ForceMaj. Sean M. Elameto, chief of the service’s legal recruiting efforts, stated in an Air Force newsletter.

Past locations for lawyer recruiting took place at meetings of the National Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, the Asian Pacific American Bar Association and other law student groups, he said.

“This year we hit a historic milestone by recruiting at the Lavender Law Convention — an annual career fair for lesbian, gay and bisexual attorneys,” Maj. Elameto stated.

The Air Force receives 20 applications, many from graduates of top law schools for each JAG entry position.

Said one military critic of the policy: Instead of seeking the best qualified applicants, the politically correct service is now spending money to recruit at the Lavender Law Convention, “rather than simply consider best-qualified applicants without preference or prejudice as to gender, religious beliefs or sexual preference.”

“Looks like fraud, waste, abuse and discrimination to me,” the official said.

Dissolving military electronics

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is looking for ways to make sensitive electronic equipment disappear — like the covert self-destructing audiotape in “Mission Impossible.”

The agency stated in a notice posted on is website Jan. 28 that sophisticated electronics used on the battlefield, from radios to sensors and phones, are needed for war fighting but are impossible to track and recover if lost.

So the agency revealed its “Vanishing Programmable Resources program” that it hopes will result in electronics “capable of dissolving into the environment around them.”

The electronic devices would keep functionality and ruggedness but “when triggered, [would] be able to degrade partially or completely into their surroundings,” the agency said.

“Once triggered to dissolve, these electronics would be useless to any enemy who might come across them.”

The agency “is looking for a way to make electronics that last precisely as long as they are needed,” program manager Alicia Jackson said.

“The breakdown of such devices could be triggered by a signal sent from command or any number of possible environmental conditions, such as temperature.”

The agency is looking for contractors to work on materials, devices, manufacturing and integration processes for a prototype of the device.