Bill Gertz Discusses Chinese Military Modernization and How It Is Making the U.S. More Vulnerable

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Washington Free Beacon senior editor Bill Gertz appeared Monday on Frank Gaffney's Secure Freedom Radio to analyze Chinese aggression in the western Pacific and how Beijing's growing military capabilities pose a major strategic challenge to the United States.

Gertz described how China is pursuing a military strategy of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) in which it is "developing weapons systems that are specifically designed to prevent the United States military from operating in Asia."

Submarines are one such system, and Gertz reported on December 10 that China has begun conducting patrols with nuclear submarines. He said in the interview that U.S. intelligence is not certain whether these submarines currently have nuclear-armed missiles onboard, but added they would not serve as much of a strategic deterrent without having such missiles.

Gertz also explained how the People's Liberation Army is developing anti-ship ballistic missiles  known as "carrier-killers," with "enough precision guidance and maneuverability to be able to target a ship at sea." Two such missiles in the Dong Feng (DF) series are the DF-21D, which has a medium range of 620 miles, and the longer-range DF-26, which was unveiled in September and is both nuclear-capable and conventionally armed.

The U.S. is unprepared for China's growing A2/AD capabilities, according to Gertz.

"The U.S. has no defense. When our Navy people are asked about this, they offer vague responses. ‘Well, our goal is to try to disrupt the so-called kill chain’ – that is, the sensors and communications that are used to first identify ships at sea and then also to guide these missiles," Gertz said.

He then added, "It will mean that the U.S. Navy could be prohibited from coming to the aid of our allies in Asia, whether it's Taiwan or Japan or nations of Southeast Asia in the South China Sea."

Host Gaffney then asked Gertz to talk about Chinese activity in space, which is meant to disrupt and potentially destroy America's space assets in the future.

Gertz said that China has recently conducted another flight test of a high-altitude anti-satellite missile, known as the Dong Neng-3, which is capable of knocking out U.S. satellites.

Beijing has assessed that with just two dozen Dong-Neng-3 missiles, it could "literally cripple the ability of the United States to navigate its forces, communicate and command and control its forces, as well as to guide its precision-guided weapons systems."

Gertz warned that the space domain has been an "advanced strategic advantage" for the U.S. "that is quickly evaporating" with China's development of anti-satellite missiles.

But China is advancing in space beyond missiles, according to Gertz. Beijing also has ground-based lasers, which can disrupt U.S. satellite communications. Moreover, China has small maneuvering satellites, "including some with robotic arms that can actually … maneuver close to a satellite, actually reach out and grab it and crush it," and the Air Force is worried about this capability.

Gertz explained that the Obama administration has no interest in putting weapons in space and is essentially "turning a blind eye to this threat." The administration's response to Chinese space weapon modernization has been to work out ways to launch new satellites into space to replace those shot down by the Chinese.

Gertz added that the Russians also have these space capabilities to challenge the United States, which he said is a major problem for Washington and its allies going forward.

"This is a huge strategic vulnerability for the U.S. and the west."

Aaron Kliegman

Aaron Kliegman   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Aaron Kliegman is the news editor of the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, Aaron worked as a research associate at the Center for Security Policy, a national security think tank, and as the deputy field director on Micah Edmond's campaign for U.S. Congress. In December 2016, he received his master's degree from Johns Hopkins University’s Global Security Studies Program in Washington, D.C., with a concentration in strategic studies. He graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2014 and lives in Leesburg, Virginia. His Twitter handle is @Aaron_Kliegman. He can be reached at kliegman@freebeacon.com.

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