Tag Archives: Rear Adm. John Kirby

Dir. of U.S. Navy Intelligence sacked for warning about China’s aggressive designs in East China Sea

Capt. James FanellCapt. James Fanell

In February of this year, at the U.S. Naval Institute’s WEST 2014 conference, Capt. James Fanell, 52, the director of intelligence and information operations at U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that the Chinese Navy was practicing for a “short sharp war” against Japan.

According to Fanell, the PLA Navy had been carrying out amphibious assault drills to practice taking territory in the East China Sea, specifically the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands that are claimed by both Japan and China. Once the uninhabited islands come under Chinese control, the PLA could then attack Okinawa to remove the facilities of the US Air Force and Marine Corps from the island. (See my post “U.S. Navy intelligence chief: China training for a quick war against Japan”)

Fanell also stated that China is at the center of virtually every maritime territorial dispute in the Asia-Pacific and that the Chinese were engaging in a blatant land-grab of islands that would enhance their exclusive economic rights to fishing and natural resources.

“I do not know how Chinese intentions could be more transparent,” he said, adding that when Beijing described its activities as the “protection of maritime rights,” this was really “a Chinese euphemism for the coerced seizure of coastal rights of China’s neighbors.”

Now comes news that Captain Fanell has been removed from his position as director of Navy Intelligence by Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) boss Adm. Harry Harris and reassigned within the command.

David Larter reports for Navy Times, Nov. 10, 2014, that Capt. Fanell’s remarks about China preparing for a “short sharp war” with Japan ran counter to the Pentagon’s talking points on building ties to the increasingly assertive Chinese navy, which forced top defense officials, including the 4-star head of the Army and the Pentagon spokesman, to respond to his comment in the following days.

PACFLT did not disclose the relief, saying that Fanell was not a commanding officer and therefore was entitled to increased privacy. “It is inappropriate to publicly discuss the internal reassignment of non-command triad personnel,” PACFLT said in an Nov. 7 statement.

The reasons for Fanell’s firing are cloudy, but two sources said the relief stems from alleged mishandling of classified information and fostering a negative command climate. Capt. Darryn James, top spokesman for PACFLT, declined to say whether Fanell’s relief was related to his controversial views, citing privacy concerns.

Fanell’s relief is the latest turmoil in the Navy’s intelligence community, and has raised questions about whether an intel officer was cashiered for publicly voicing a view that contradicted Pentagon public statements.

Fanell’s views have supporters inside naval intelligence, and he has become a high-profile spokesman for a more alarmist view of the rise of China than those espoused by Navy senior leadership, an intelligence source who spoke to Navy Times said. Fanell’s articles on China have been published by Hoover Digest, Naval Intelligence Professionals Quarterly and the U. S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings.

But his public remarks stirred a major controversy and forced both the Pentagon’s top spokesman and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to repudiate his comments.

John Kirby

John Kirby

Pentagon Press Secretary and Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that Fanell’s comments were his to express and that they weren’t reflective of the organization’s stance on China: “What I can tell you about what [Defense] Secretary [Chuck] Hagel believes is that we all continue to believe that the peaceful, prosperous rise of China is a good thing for the region, for the world.”

Ray Odierno

Ray Odierno

Fanell’s comments in early 2014 came at an awkward time, coinciding with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno‘s trip to Beijing in February, when he was asked by a reporter to respond to Fanell’s analysis. Odierno said, “I’ve seen no indications of that at all,” referring to Fanell’s analysis that China was preparing for war with Japan.

The comments also ran contrary to the messaging from Adm. Jon Greenert, who has made engagement with China one of

Jonathan Greenert

Jonathan Greenert

the hallmarks of his time as chief of naval operations. Later in 2014, Greenert stated that talking openly of war with China — and a Chinese war with Japan would almost certainly trigger a war with the U.S. — was unnecessarily antagonistic. “If you talk about it openly, you cross the line and unnecessarily antagonize,” Greenert said at a forum in Newport, Rhode Island. “You probably have a sense about how much we trade with that country. It’s astounding. ”

Fanell is a California native and nearly 29-year career intelligence officer commissioned in 1986. He was responsible for damage assessments for Pacific Fleet during operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. He served as a China maritime watch officer at Joint Intelligence Center Pacific in 1991, and served on board the carriers Kitty Hawk, Carl Vinson, as well as the amphibious command ship Blue Ridge.

He has been reassigned as an aid to Rear Adm. Randy Crites, head of the maritime headquarters at PACFLT.

See also:

~StMA

Obama admin sends 600 “boots-on-the-ground” to E. Europe

To EE

Ben Watson reports for Defense One, April 22, 2014:

The Pentagon is sending about 600 U.S. troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia in a show of support for Eastern European countries uneasy with Russian forces still lingering near Ukraine.

Eastern Europe Map

“Nothing we’ve seen out of Russia or their armed forces, is de-escalating the tension, is making things any more stable in Ukraine or on the continent of Europe,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

The first steps of the increased U.S troop presence will occur in Poland and involves approximately 150 paratroopers from the 173rd, based in Vicenza, Italy. Those troops are expected to arrive Wednesday.

The 173rd, which has deployed once to Iraq and four times to Afghanistan since 2003, was already on call to help with NATO security in Europe, led by the alliance’s top military commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove. The paratroopers will be conducting infantry exercises with their Polish counterparts, Kirby said. The other 450 troops — also from the 173rd — will arrive by next week to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“This isn’t the first time that the 173rd has done exercises with these countries,” Kirby said. “So there’s a relationship there. But yes, these exercises were conceived and added onto the exercise regimen as a result of what’s going on in Ukraine.”

Kirby was asked if the troop deployment is meant to send a message to Russia, after the annexation of Crimea in Ukraine and subsequent buildup of Russian troops along its eastern border set off fresh worries in other former Soviet Union countries. “Any time you put troops on the ground and doing exercises, in this case for a month at a time, it’s more than symbology,” Kirby replied. “The kind of work that we’re going to be doing is real infantry training. And that’s not insignificant.” Still, he said the message is intended to reassure Eastern European allies, not to provoke Russia.

The additional U.S. troops will be maintaining a “persistent rotational presence” through at least the end of the year and maybe longer depending on how the situation in Ukraine develops. The exercises are part of a bilateral operation, and as such, not official NATO events, Kirby said. Regardless, he added, “You’re going to see more [troop and equipment deployments] coming through the alliance, but you’re also going to see more coming bilaterally.”

The Pentagon will also be sending one of its warships, the USS Taylor, to the Black Sea to backfill the guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the coming days. Tensions flared on April 12 when Russian fighter jets — ignoring repeated radio warnings from U.S. sailors — made multiple, close-range passes near the USS Donald Cook for nearly 90 minutes.

The White House announced Monday it would send another $8 million in aid to Ukraine, including vehicles, explosive disposal equipment, handheld radios and tactical gear.

See also:

~StMA

Latest news on Ukraine

US fighter jets, Troops to Poland & lithuania Over Ukraine Crisis

Jennifer Svan and John Vandiver report for Stars and Stripes that on March 10, 2014, Polish government officials said the U.S. military was sending 12 F-16 fighter jets and about 300 service members to their country in response to the situation in Ukraine.

It’s the second time in less than a week that the Pentagon has ordered combat planes and personnel to countries in Eastern Europe amid mounting tensions over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula. On March 6, the U.S. Air Force sent six F-15C Eagles and more than 60 U.S. airmen from RAF Lakenheath, England, to Lithuania to bolster NATO’s air policing mission over the Baltics.

The Baltic nations and Poland had requested the deployments, officials said.

UN Assembly declares Crimea referendum invalid

On March 27, 2014, by a vote of 100 in favor to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, the 193-member UN Assembly declared that the March 16 referendum in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia “has no validity” and that the parties should “pursue immediately a peaceful resolution of the situation.”

The UN calls on all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the 16 March referendum “and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”

Russia adds more troops along Ukraine border

Jim Garamone reports for the American Forces Press Service, March 27, 2014, that Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a news conference Russia is continuing to reinforce units along the eastern and southern Ukraine border.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week that the Russian troops were massing for regularly scheduled exercises. Kirby said “The minister said it was exercises, no intent to cross the border. They need to live up to that word.”

The AFP reports on March 27, 2014, that Andriy Parubiy, chairman of Ukraine’s national security council, said via a webcast from Kiev that nearly 100,000 Russian forces have massed on Ukraine’s border — a number far higher than US military estimates.

Parubiy said, “Almost 100,000 soldiers are stationed on the borders of Ukraine and in the direction … of Kharkiv, Donetsk. Russian troops are not in Crimea only, they are along all Ukrainian borders. They’re in the south, they’re in the east and in the north.”

CHINA WON’T TAKE SIDES

Harriet Torry reports for the Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2014, that Chinese President Xi Jinping said China had “no private interest in the Ukraine question,” dashing hopes in the West that Beijing could turn more critical of its Russian ally.

~StMA