The conundrum facing the US military base security keepers is ensuring bad guys like China on the outside and good guys, the people authorized and have legitimate work on the premises, have easy access. When a base is under enhanced security procedures, authorized cars attempting to enter can be lined up for significant distances. New reports reveal there is less of the former keeping bad guys out in deference to letting in the good guys. Typically, military bases have hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of enclosed facilities, many of which have highly classified missions using technologies the Defense Department would like to keep secret. Consequently, the bases and what goes on inside the fences are logical targets for espionage.
Looking at the breach of bases by Beijing operatives as isolated incidents belies the danger. When the totality of what the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is doing to and within the US is exposed, the extent of the problem is put into perspective. The recent reports of Chinese intrusion into national security facilities are simply the cause du jour. “Chinese nationals, sometimes posing as tourists, have accessed military bases and other sensitive sites in the US as many as 100 times in recent years, according to US officials, who describe the incidents as a potential espionage threat,” Gordon Lubold, Warren P. Strobel, and Aruna Viswanatha reported in the Wall Street Journal. The journalist explained that the incidents ranged from “Chinese nationals found crossing into a US missile range in New Mexico,” to skin-diving spies in waterfront hiding places “near a US government rocket-launch site in Florida.”
Pentagon Response to China Breaching Bases Cavalier
The response from the Pentagon was somewhat cavalier. During a Defense Department briefing, a question was asked regarding the report on military installation incursions. US Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, explained:
“I can tell you that the department has conducted several base security reviews since 2018, some of which included support by our interagency partners, and a recent review focused on the physical security conditions of our gates, among other aspects of base security. And the results of those reviews have and will continue to inform changes to protective measures at our bases. To answer your question in terms of the kinds of things we’ve seen, I would note that every day DOD conducts more than 10,000 controlled turnarounds of individuals who arrive at one of our 1,400 gates around the world.”
The points Ryder attempted to make were that base security is a shared responsibility with other “interagency partners.” It’s not just the military. Furthermore, we’ve reviewed military facilities gate security (Read, see we’re doing something.) to give us information for changing our procedures if we want to, and we’ve got lots and lots of gates to secure, and the number 100 is not so significant in comparison. What Ryder didn’t say is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) doesn’t attempt to crash the gates of just any old base. “There are repeated cases in which Chinese nationals have been found taking pictures at a US Army range, according to people familiar with the matter,” the WSJ revealed. These incidents aren’t just a recent phenomenon.
Three years ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported on the apprehension and conviction of Chinese nationals photographing a US Navy base. “Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office announced that three People’s Republic of China foreign nationals were sentenced today to prison terms for illegal photography of military installations at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Key West,” according to a June 2020 FBI press release.
Chinese Surveillance Is Bigger Than Crashing Bases
It’s not as simple as the CCP operatives sneaking onto military reservations to surveil what is going on at sensitive facilities. In some cases, the Chinese attempt to take up residence adjacent to US Air Force bases. As Liberty Nation reported recently:
“Now we learn that a company, clouded in mystery, is buying land at the fence of Travis Air Force Base, just northeast of San Francisco. A real estate enterprise, Flannery Associates LLC, has been purchasing parcels of land adjacent to the perimeter fence of America’s largest Air Mobility Command installation, home to the 60th Air Mobility Wing.”
Such purchases are similar to that near Grand Forks, Air Force Base, North Dakota by a Chinese company, with ties to the CCP. Fortunately, the citizens of Grand Forks put a stop to the sale. When looked at from a broader perspective, Chinese espionage operations, including establishing spy stations in Cuba, sending surveillance balloons over a vast swath of the US, including numerous sensitive US Defense Department installation, and now military installation gate crashers, it is only too obvious America is under assault. Monitoring and reviewing military installation gate security may be ongoing, but it did not stop 100 incidents of CCP operatives from wandering onto America’s military facilities. Balancing ease of entry for authorized personnel is essential, but keeping bad actors off our sensitive defense installations is critical. Doing both is what Americans expect from the Pentagon.
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