A senior Navy intelligence officer has been removed from his position due to comments made regarding aggressive Chinese military movements that ran counter to the Pentagon's talking points on the issue, according to the Navy Times.
Capt. James Fanell was removed from his position as the director of intelligence and information operations at U.S. Pacific Fleet. Fanell was reassigned within the command.
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Though neither the Navy nor Fanell commented on the reason for the personnel change, it is widely believed to be due to an internal investigation of his comments on China, according to the report.
Fanell warned during a February public appearance that a recent Chinese amphibious exercise led naval intelligence to assess that China's strategy was to be able to launch a "short, sharp war" with Japan, an unusually frank assessment about a closely watched region.
His comments, which ran counter to the Pentagon's talking points on building ties to the increasingly assertive Chinese navy, were picked up by media outlets from The New York Times and Reuters to London's Financial Times and Daily Telegraph. Top defense officials, including the 4-star head of the Army and the Pentagon spokesman, were forced to respond to his comment in the following days.
Fanell said that he believed China was preparing for a "short, sharp war" against Japan, and that he did "not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent."
"[We believe] the [People's Liberation Army] has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected [as] a seizure of the Senkakus or even southern Ryukyu [islands]," Fanell was quoted as saying.
Fanell has also stated that China is at the center of virtually every maritime territorial dispute in the Asia-Pacific and that the Chinese were engaging in a blatant land-grab of islands that would enhance their exclusive economic rights to fishing and natural resources.
"I do not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent," he said, adding that when Beijing described its activities as the "protection of maritime rights," this was really "a Chinese euphemism for the coerced seizure of coastal rights of China's neighbors," the Financial Times reported.