Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s unusual offer to China’s military to join a major U.S.-led naval exercise in the Pacific prompted several U.S. security officials to express fears privately that China will gain valuable war-fighting intelligence from the Rimpac, or Rim of the Pacific, exercise.
China’s military will learn details on how the United States conducts coalition warfare, a strategic war-fighting capability. It also will learn valuable data on U.S. communications used in naval warfare maneuvers, said defense officials familiar with the war games.
If China takes part, Chinese military intelligence would be given access to sensitive information on the planning for the exercise and the communications and procedures used in maneuvering large groups of forces from different nations. China could use the information in a future conflict, considering its growing cyberwarfare capabilities.
A provision of the 2000 National Defense Authorization Act prohibits any contacts with the People’s Liberation of Army that pose a national security risk, including joint war-fighting capabilities, a key element of the international war games.
To circumvent the restriction, the Pentagon over the past few months had lawyers review the prohibition. They told Mr. Panetta he could authorize the Chinese military participation by asserting it would not undermine U.S. security.
Full article: Inside the Ring: Invitation to China (Washington Times)