Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Chinese Carrier Killers

More on the Chinese naval development: Janes reports that the Chinese ups their missile capabilities, especially the anti-shipping part, that has long had a central role in the deterrence strategy towards Taiwan.

Not only does China want a carrier of some sort, they also want to be able to sink or damage the American carriers. This is a tough challenge that the russians also pondered - they came up with a "swarming" tactics, firing several tens or hundreds of cruise missiles from all angles at the same time, to overwhelm the anti-missile guns.

Now the Chinese have thought up a new concept, using a tactical ballistic missile (a rocket that launches vertically, but has less range than an intercontinental missile, such as those used for nuclear warheads) to hit carriers:

In Chinese terms, this is a Shashaojian - the assassin's mace - a 'silver bullet' weapon that would, literally, drop from the clear blue sky. A 2004 report by the US Office of Naval Intelligence made it plain that China was developing the capability to use its DF-21 tactical ballistic missiles (TBMs)against targets at sea. The DF-21 carries a single warhead of about 500/600 kg over a distance of 1,500 km to 2,000 km, or more. Designed as a nuclear delivery system, the DF-21 can also be fitted with a conventional payload. If made to work, such a weapon would be a 'carrier killer' without equal.



Chinese carrier development

One of my stranger fascinations is with Chinese naval developments. With an expanding economy and a largely brown-water navy (one that sails close to the coast), the Chinese will have to make a number of heavy decisions. Especially considering that they have the unsolved problem of Taiwan sitting right across the strait. I guess this is why there is such an attraction to following the Chinese People Liberation Army's Navy from the armchair.

The US Naval War College Review, Autumn 2006, Vol. 59, No. 4 brings an interesting and comprehensive article on the Chinese considerations over whether to get a carrier force, a must if you really want global, blue-water capabilities.



Chinese intel service Guanbu in Germany

Intelligence Online has a little interesting piece on the activities of the Chinese intelligence service during the recent meeting of Uighurs in Germany. The exiles from the moslem province are under close watch - and rightly so as they are a possible excuse/reason for China to call on the excuse of fighting the War on Terror. Intelligence Online writes:

Identifying the Chinese ?Fish?

German intelligence agencies seized the occasion of the second World Uighur Congress (WUC) in Munich in late November to identify Guoanbu agents.

In seeing to the security WUC, the world movement of Moslem resistance in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, Germany?s Bundesverfassungschutz (BfV) and Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) identified new covers used by ?fish in deep water? as the Chinese term their covert agents.

While the Germans obviously took a close interest in ?diplomats? from China?s consulate in Munich headed by Yang Huqun, they were also on the lookout for far more discreet secret agents from Guoanbu (state security ministry).

In its recent efforts to fight against both Tibetan dissidents and the Uighurs, Guoanbu has set up small ?ethnic? shops and restaurants in their communities in West Europe in order to keep an eye on them. In addition to the Buddhist-Taoist Falun Gong sect and the protestant Three Grades of Servant Church - whose leader Xu Shuangfu was executed last week - the Tibetans and Uighurs are considered particularly dangerous, particularly in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

By intercepting telephone calls from Chinese diplomatic posts the Germans learned that Guoanbu officials were keeping a close eye on the new and charismatic president of the World Uighur Congress, Rebiya Kadeer, as well as on Hamit Hemrayev, the head of the Congress? research bureau which is considered to be the Uighur security and counter-espionage service.

The small delegation from the brand new association of Uighurs in France - which has aroused the intense interest of Guoanbu in Paris - kept a very low profile in Munich on the advice of the French police. Indeed, Chinese liaison officers at Interpol and the French interior ministry are continually asking for surveillance reports on refugees from Xinjiang.



Open source intelligence and social software

The waves from the intelligence-wikipedia "Intellipedia" has traveled far and wide in the internet world, with blogs monitoring the development of how intelligence agencies alledgedly use collaborative software - just like all the kids out on the 2.0 web.

Now Clive Thompson has written a comprehensive article on the US intelligence community's use of social software like blogs and wikis.

The problems that the intel-community face looks very much like the driving prospects of the information society: an amock-running amount of information, stemming from the possibilities of self-publishing along with a pluralistic break-down of traditional information souvreignty, understood as the possibility to control information and determine importance in information and events.

While large knowledge organisations battle to keep a hold of this Tasman devil of information, their employees as private citizens are froliciking in the warm waves of user-made information. By decentralising and individualising - in effect de-bureaucratising - the large organisations might be able to rein in information. But the cost seems to be their unity of command and effort.

Intelligence agencies are especially interesting examples of this double movement between processes and chaos, as they deal with a far greater security of information. Or in the words of thermodynamics: Intel agencies are ideally separated from the outside world by a semi-permeable boundary that allows all relevant information to filter in, but none to filter out. However the problem is that the formula for the boundary is hard to set and the evolution of the information society after the Cold War has petrified the intelligence services' boundaries into cement.

The article highlights a lot of the relevant problems in integrating OSINT and social software in intelligence work, but also highlights that this IS the future, nay, the reality of intelligence today. Thanks to Niels for the link.



Den hemmelige krig - og den forudsigelige dokumentar

Æv! Nu havde jeg glædet mig - sammen med resten af Danmarks akademiske forsvarsnørder - til at se Christoffer Guldbrandsens film "Den hemmelige krig". Al den medieomtale er resultatet af et kontroversielt emne og en god sans for markedsføring. Og ærligt talt havde jeg da håbet at der var tale om et stykke kritisk journalistik der kunne være med til at raffinere debatten om Irak herhjemme.

Det var det bare ikke. Dokumentaren havde en interessant problemstilling, men sovsede den til i suggestiv underlægningsmusik og billed-effekter. Det er der for så vidt intet galt i - men Guldbrandsen fik bare spændt buen for hårdt, for det var en halvslatten pil han kunne lægge på strengen. Der var ikke hårde fakta på at danske soldater havde gjort noget forkert, der var en rimeligt god indikation på at Fogh har handlet mod bedre vidende, men ved at trække sagen så hårdt op, så risikerer Guldbrandsen at skyde sig selv i foden.

Og her er der sket noget interessant: Den massive foromtale har nok punkteret sagen og udmattet dens retoriske gennemslagskraft. Dermed har Guldbrandsens promotor gjort ham en bjørnetjeneste. Det er bare ikke sikkert at Forsvaret har fanget den: FKO åbner låget for at man måske vil finde det arkiv der siges at være blevet ødelagt i filmen.*
Det mest interessante der kunne komme ud af denne film ville være en fornyet debat om Danmarks deltagelse i krige - og hvorfor og hvordan det skal gøres, samt ikke mindst hvilke konsekvenser vi skal være parate til. Men desværre ser det ud til at principperne igen bliver skjult i trivialiteternes sandstorme.

* Pressechef her er nu Lennie Fredskov Hansen, tidligere Statsministeriet.