Former senior military official slams ‘feckless’ Pentagon response to Chinese balloon, warns of consequences
A former assistant secretary of the Army is taking issue with the “feckless” leadership at the Pentagon and its response to the suspected Chinese spy balloon that has been hovering across the United States in recent days, warning of consequences for the American military if the situation isn’t handled properly.
In a Saturday morning interview with Fox News Digital, E. Casey Wardynski, a former assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs under the Trump administration, said the Biden administration could have removed the aircraft from American airspace before it made its way to more populous areas of the country.
Wardynski said he believes the Pentagon’s outlook on the situation could have an impact on the military’s recruiting efforts.
“Who wants to join this team,” he asked. “This will make recruiting harder because people are gonna look at this and say, ‘Well, this is a feckless bunch.'”
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Wardynski, who rejected the notion that the balloon can’t be shot down safely as a “false premise,” wondered at what point the Pentagon would take action if this were a Chinese aircraft that way spying on Americans.
“They can land this balloon,” he said. “They steer it by changing altitude and picking up different winds. If they can change altitude, they can change it to zero.”
Wardynski said if China is “unwilling” to do that, then the Pentagon should take action.
The Pentagon, according to Wardynski, has waited the situation out and now has an “excuse” they can use not to shoot the balloon down as it traverses across populated areas of the country.
“They’ve waited for it to get over Missouri and populated areas,” he said. “So now they’re going to have an excuse to do nothing, which is the kind of government we’ve got — a do nothing government.”
Pointing to how dire the situation is, Wardynski said communication channels used by U.S. military bases could have been placed in jeopardy by the ballon’s presence.
“This balloon was flying over, I believe, Malmstrom Air Force Base, which is one of the three missile fields,” he said. “It might be able to pick up line-of-sight communications, which is used in those missile fields to communicate.… I think it probably went pretty darned close to Whiteman Air Force Base, which is home for all the B-2 Bombers.”
Wardynski also found himself questioning why the Pentagon has allowed the Chinese balloon to travel across multiple American states. “It’s our airspace. They would’ve shot this thing down long ago if it was an American aircraft,” he said.
Referring to the situation as “ridiculous,” Wardynski said the Pentagon’s handling of the matter “feeds into the overall picture of the Defense Department, which is that it’s a crowd that can’t shoot straight.”
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The Biden administration considered bringing the vessel down, but opted not to because of the risk of falling debris and potential for injury and collateral damage. There are other reasons not to shoot down the balloon, a former Defense Department official said.
A former high-ranking military official with expertise on the Pentagon’s acquisition, logistics, and technology efforts, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, told Fox News Digital Friday evening that he believes there are a “couple of things to think about” when it comes to the Pentagon’s response to the Chinese balloon.
“One thing is when you know somebody’s spying on you and you get to watch it and you can control what they might see, it’s an information for you as much as it is for them — you’re gonna control what they can see,” the former official said. “You may also get a better understanding of how they think things are working.”
The former official said the “last thing” the Pentagon wants to do is “pop it and it drop like a rock” because it has the potential to severely damage what lies below or break into pieces, preventing the U.S. from earning “intel from the debris field.”
At some point, however, the former official noted that the Pentagon will have to take action to address the Chinese balloon and “deal with it.”
The Pentagon, amid pushback from Republican lawmakers, said that it considered taking down the possible threat from China, but ultimately decided against any action due to “the risk to safety and security of people on the ground from the possible debris field.”
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Footage captured by Fox News Saturday morning showed the balloon sitting just above Charlotte, North Carolina, around 10:30 a.m. ET.
The updated location of the suspected surveillance device comes after Defense Department spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Friday that the balloon, which China claims is a civilian reconnaissance airship that inadvertently drifted off course, had “changed its course” and moved to the central part of the country.
Asked if the U.S. government will shoot down the surveillance aircraft, President Biden said Saturday, “We’re gonna take care of it.”
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this article.
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