Some members of Congress are asking tough questions about why the Pentagon is using a Chinese commercial satellite for U.S. Africa Command communications.
The controversial decision, says Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), chairman of the panel that oversees space programs, “exposes our military to the risk that China may seek to turn off our ‘eyes and ears’ at the time of their choosing.”
Monday’s Pentagon report on China warns on page 33 that the Chinese military emphasizes the necessity of “destroying, damaging, and interfering with the enemy’s reconnaissance… and communications satellites”:
A PLA [People’s Liberation Army] analysis of U.S. and coalition military operations reinforced the importance of operations in space to enable “informatized” warfare, claiming that “space is the commanding point for the information battlefield.” PLA writings emphasize the necessity of “destroying, damaging, and interfering with the enemy’s reconnaissance… and communications satellites,” suggesting that such systems, as well as navigation and early warning satellites, could be among the targets of attacks designed to “blind and deafen the enemy.” The same PLA analysis of U.S. and coalition military operations also states that “destroying or capturing satellites and other sensors… will deprive an opponent of initiative on the battlefield and [make it difficult] for them to bring their precision guided weapons into full play.”
However, top Pentagon space policy official Douglas Loverro says commanders “need support and sometimes we must go” to “the only place that we can get” the service.
Rogers said he is “deeply concerned a low-level DoD [Department of Defense] agency was able to enter into a contract with a Chinese company to use a Chinese satellite launched by a Chinese missile, seemingly with no input from the political appointees in DoD.”
Indeed, there appears to be a communications disconnect in the Department of Defense: the Pentagon’s own report released on Monday underscores China’s aggressive use of espionage to advance its military power.