Welcome to this week’s edition of The Intelligence Brief. Items we’ll be looking at in this installment include 1) recent news that the Pentagon has plans for a new Pacific task force, 2) NATO and its role in the establishment of the prospective task force, and lastly, 3) how (and why) the U.S. Space Force recently entered the war on drugs.
Pentagon Insiders Say Plans for New Pacific Task Force are Underway
Recent reports indicate that the Pentagon is looking at the possibility of establishing a lasting naval task force to counter military efforts by China in the Pacific, it was recently reported.
According to Politico’s Lara Seligman, a pair of unnamed officials familiar with the development say the Department of Defense proposes “creating a named military operation for the Pacific,” which would effectively grant the Secretary of Defense the ability to allocate funding and resources toward efforts to curb increased military activities being undertaken by China.
According to Politico, the forthcoming task force is the byproduct of the Pentagon’s current China Task Force commissioned in March by President Biden.
“We are looking at a number of proposals in the Indo-Pacific and across the Department, to better synchronize and coordinate our activities,” one official was quoted saying in the Politico report, who also noted that nothing has yet been finalized, although efforts toward enacting the task force appear to be underway.
NATO and its Cold War-Era Reaction Force
The news comes just days after a meeting of world leaders in Cornwall, England, at this year’s G7 Summit, where concerns about Russia and China had been among the main items of discussion. It also follows NATO leaders pronouncing China a global security challenge.
“China’s stated ambitions and assertive behaviour present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to Alliance security,” read a portion of a NATO communiqué issued following the recent G7 Summit. “We are concerned by those coercive policies which stand in contrast to the fundamental values enshrined in the Washington Treaty.
The comuniqué added that “China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and a larger number of sophisticated delivery systems to establish a nuclear triad,” which, complicated by its “cooperating militarily with Russia,” warrants concern from Western nations. This, along with what the document cites as “China’s frequent lack of transparency and use of disinformation.”
“We call on China to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system,” the communiqué states, “including in the space, cyber, and maritime domains, in keeping with its role as a major power.”
Sources told Politico that the Pentagon’s new effort would also draw on NATO initiatives dating back to the Cold War era, known as the Standing Naval Forces Atlantic, a maritime reaction force capable of providing NATO with immediate operational response capacity should such a necessity ever arise.
Recent reporting by the New York Times discussed details related to a widely-anticipated report by another task force under the U.S. Navy, which has recently analyzed issues related to military encounters with unidentified aerial phenomena. Notably, according to the Times, some of the phenomena observed by our military “could have been experimental technology from a rival power, most likely Russia or China.”
Space Force Joins the War Effort… Against Drugs
Unrelated to current efforts to ramp up American defenses against China’s military in the Pacific, the newest branch of the United States military has recently been making contributions to defending the Atlantic Coast, having now joined one of the country’s longest-running combat efforts: the war on drugs.
According to a recent release that appeared on the webpage of Space Launch Delta 45, “Defenders from the 45th Security Forces Squadron seized nearly 30 kilograms of cocaine that washed ashore on a Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, beach, May 19, 2021.”
The drugs were apparently discovered by a 45th Civil Engineer Squadron wildlife manager during a beach patrol, while she was performing a sea turtle nesting survey. The engineer reported that she immediately contacted the 45th Security Forces Squadron, and discovered additional packages totaling 18 containers she suspected of housing drugs while awaiting their arrival. Narcotics agents with the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office were also summoned, who were later able to confirm that the packages contained cocaine.
The drugs were “transported to a secure location,” and thereafter turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.
It is believed that the packages were washed ashore after being thrown overboard with bale wrapping during a bulk shipment carried out by drug traffickers, which often results in contraband being lost at sea “and eventually recovered on the coastline of the United States.”
The United States Space Force awaits the day when it will have opportunities to defend the nation’s interests from threats that may occur beyond Earth’s atmosphere. For now though, its partnership with Homeland Security Investigations certainly appears to be keeping it busy, in the continuance of one of the United States’ longest-running and most controversial battles here on the ground against what Richard Nixon famously called “public enemy number one.”