My Most Recent OMG National Security Moment. Does it Give You the Shivers, Too? | | 5.10.13

OK now, Team Ricochet, here’s a riddle:

You are the U.S. government. You know, the same government whose Secretary of State and her superior could not get it together to send rescuers to the aid of our ambassador to Libya. That aside, your top concern is, as your mission statement puts it, “to provide for the common defense.”

To this end, you have planes, ships and troops deployed all over the world, including in Africa. Of course, you are very protective of your facilities for communicating with your forces, and you are particularly worried about electronic eavesdropping and other forms of cyberwarfare by China. So how do you communicate with those troops and have them communicate amongst themselves?


To support our forces in Africa, the answer is that you rent space on a Chinese communications satellite and run all your most sensitive data and communications through it.

Yes, according to‘s Danger Room blog: “The Pentagon is so starved for bandwidth that it’s paying a Chinese satellite firm to help it communicate and share data. U.S. troops operating on the African continent are now using the recently-launched Apstar-7 satellite to keep in touch and share information.”

Said one official: “We recognize that there is concern across the [national security] community on the usage of Chinese satellites to support our warfighter. And yet, we also recognize that our warfighters need support, and sometimes we must go to the only place that we can get it from.”

Wired reports that: “In 2012, China for the first time launched more rockets into space than the U.S. – including the Chinasat 12 and Apstar-7 communications satellites.”

As one particularly witty student of military affairs responded when I shared the Wired posting with him, “It’s troubling when you can’t tell the news from Onion articles.”

Here’s the full piece.

Is it just me or does this unnerve you, too?

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