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China trying to ‘exploit’ US troops, veterans, Air Force chief warns

Gen. Charles Q. Brown is asking airmen to report any suspicious activity.
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CQ Brown
Air Force Chief of Staff Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. addresses students from Air War College and Air Command and Staff College at Air University. (Trey Ward/U.S. Air Force)

China’s military is trying to enhance its capabilities and “fill gaps” in its skill set by having companies hire American service members and veterans to train Chinese troops, the Air Force’s top general is warning.

That’s the message from Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr., the Air Force’s chief of staff, who shared the warning in a memo sent out to Air Force personnel on Friday, Aug. 8. It was also obtained by the unofficial Air Force amn/nco/snco page. Companies with business ties to China are “targeting and recruiting U.S. and NATO-trained military talent across specialties and career fields,” Brown said.

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“By essentially training the trainer, many of those who accept contracts with these foreign companies are eroding our national security, putting the very safety of their fellow service members and the country at risk,” Brown’s memo says. The document calls on service members to help in “protecting our national defense information.” 

Brown is asking Air Force personnel to report any case where they or someone they know has been reached out to for training foreign militaries. He also is reaching out to the heads of partner air forces to address the issue on their end.

It’s unclear how many incidents there are, Brown did not give examples in his brief memo, nor did he say how long this has apparently been going on for. 

According to a statement obtained by the Washington Post, a Chinese spokesperson at the embassy in Washington, D.C. did not deny what Brown wrote, but said that government officials are “quick to accuse China.” The statement said that national security concerns should not be used to “smear relevant companies.” 

The U.S. and China have been in competition for influence in the Pacific, which some have seen as a prelude to conflict. Earlier this year the head of Air Mobility Command wrote his own memo predicting a war in 2025 between the U.S. and China. The Pentagon said that document did not reflect the Department of Defense’s opinions. 

Brown is directing Air Force personnel to report any targeting or recruitment to osi.af.mil/submit-a-tip.

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