By Alan W. Dowd

The DoD on the PRC
The Pentagon’s 2008 report on the Military Power of the People’s Republic of China paints an ominous picture:

  • “Much uncertainty surrounds China’s future course, in particular in the area of its expanding military power and how that power might be used.”
  • “The lack of transparency in China’s military and security affairs poses risks to stability by increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation.”
  • The PRC is “pursuing comprehensive transformation from a mass army designed for protracted wars of attrition on its territory to one capable of fighting and winning short duration, high intensity conflicts along its periphery against high-tech adversaries.”
  • China’s nuclear force modernization, as evidence by the fielding of the new DF-31 and DF-31A intercontinental-range missiles, is enhancing China’s strategic strike capabilities.”
  • There are between 990 and 1,070 short-range ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan, and the PRC “is increasing the size of this force at a rate of more than 100 missiles per year.”
  • China bases 490 combat aircraft within un-refueled operational range of Taiwan, and has the airfield capacity to expand that number by hundreds.”
  • China is developing a multi-dimensional program to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by its potential adversaries during times of crisis or conflict.”
  • The PRC has “announced plans to launch 15 rockets and 17 satellites in 2008.”
  • In the past year, numerous computer networks around the world, including those owned by the U.S. Government, were subject to intrusions that appear to have originated within the PRC.”
  • The Chinese navy “has received seven new domestically produced surface combatants in the past two years.”
  • In 2007, Beijing announced a $45.99-billion defense budget. However, the Pentagon estimates China’s actual military-related spending for 2007 “could be between $97 billion and $139 billion.” That means China invests at least double or more than every other power in the region—Russia, Japan, South Korea, India and Taiwan.

Standing Guard
France is building a new naval base in Abu Dhabi, directly across from Iran. The International Herald Tribune reports that the 400-man facility is France’s first permanent naval base in the Persian Gulf.

President Nicolas Sarkozy says the base “is a sign to all that France is participating in the stability of this region of the world.”

Challenging the commonly held view that suicide attacks in Iraq are mostly homegrown, the military has released a treasure trove of data about al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) seized during operations in Sinjar, Iraq.

As The Washington Post reports, it appears that 90 percent of the suicide bombers in Iraq have been foreigners. And AQI is dominated by hundreds of foreign imports, ranging in age from 16 to 54. Forty percent of those detailed in the Sinjar records were Saudi, and 40 percent were North African, almost half of whom were Libyan.

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.