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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

High Performance Computers

page 4

Command, Control, and Communications

Leading PRC military strategists and political/military scholars in the PRC have publicly recommended that the PLA give high priority to the development of improved automated command, control, and communications networks.59

The recommendations include:

    • That the command, control, and communications system at and above the battalion level of various service arms be turned into an integrated mutually linked network
    • That the traditional vertical and tiered command system be converted into a network command structure, in order to meet the demands of time and flexibility in command
    • That the centralized type command system should be developed into a dispersed command60

Another PRC writer has stated that multi-dimensional interconnected networks on the ground, in the air (and outer space), and underwater ó as well as terminals, modems, and software ó are not only instruments, but also weapons.61

The PLA has begun research on the technologies necessary to develop an Integrated Battlefield Area Communications System.62 In addition, research is underway on related subjects such as real-time intelligent decision-making for fighter aircraft maneuver simulation systems.63

Full implementation of these goals will require exceptional computational power. However, this power can be efficiently provided by distributed computer systems.64 Battle management functions are also readily scalable, making them suitable for initial implementation on commercially available computer equipment.

Meteorology for Military Operations

Weather modeling and prediction is essential in military operations in that it effects force deployments, protection against chemical, biological, and nuclear environments, weapons effectiveness, and logistics.65

While a typical global weather model with 75-mile resolution can be executed on a workstation with performance in the 200 MTOPS range, typical tactical weather models with 30-mile resolution require computers rated in excess of 10,000 MTOPS. Calculation of weather forecasts in littoral areas to resolve complex air-ocean interactions is even more demanding.66

Cartography for Military Operations

Depending on the perceived requirements of military commanders, cartography requires high computational levels. For instance, processing topographic data in a timely manner to support military operations may require up to 24,000 MTOPS. For military planning purposes in which time is not a factor, cartographic applications can be accomplished at lower MTOPS levels ó less than 4,600 MTOPS ó and computer hardware can be selected based on cost rather than speed and memory capacity.67

Military Training Systems

Research underway at the PRCís Harbin Institute of Technology indicates the PRC is focused on large-scale training systems.68 The computer performance requirements in this regard depend on the level of fidelity that is needed, the complexity of the training objectives, and the time that is available. For training objectives that require realism and representation of large-scale forces, HPC performance may exceed 10,000 MTOPS.69

National Security Implications of High Performance Computer Use by the PRC Military

The Select Committee judges that the PRC is attempting to achieve parity with U.S. systems and capabilities through its military modernization efforts. The PRC intends by this effort to increase its regional power projection capabilities and augment its ability to hold the neighboring countries of Taiwan, India, and Japan at risk.

The PRCís use of HPCs for its military modernization poses risks to U.S. national security. Significant improvements in PRC information warfare and military operations may increase the threat to U.S. military systems and personnel in a way that cannot be easily countered.70 HPCs of varying capability could assist the PRC in this endeavor.71

Further, the PRC is likely to modernize its nuclear arsenal, with the help of HPCs. In this regard, it is believed that, if the PRC maintains its current path, it will still be a second-class nuclear power compared to the United States and Russia for the next several decades. However, if Washington and Moscow were to reduce their nuclear forces to about 1,000 warheads, as President Yeltsin has suggested, the PRC could conceivably expand its nuclear forces in an attempt to reach numerical parity.

The PRCís continuing chemical and biological weapons programs, and improvement of weapons delivery platforms such as cruise missiles, may also be the beneficiaries of increased HPC capability. Continued development or use of chemical or biological weapons by the PRC could have serious strategic and tactical implications for the United States.72

If it is to fully exploit HPC hardware capabilities for military applications, the PRC requires improved system integration, quality production processes, and development of doctrine and tactics.73 The PRC also requires technologies that are interdependent with HPCs in military applications, such as telecommunications and microelectronics.

Control or monitoring of these HPC-related services and technologies may provide additional opportunities to influence the pace of the PRCís attainment of its military modernization objectives.


U.S. Export Policy Has Gradually Relaxed Controls on High Performance Computers

In 1988, exporters of HPCs were required to obtain a Department of Commerce license to export computers with a performance level ó called a Composite Theoretical Performance (CTP) ó of 12.5 MTOPS or more to most destinations. A supercomputer was defined as any computer with a performance level of 195 MTOPS or greater.74

Foreign policy controls were imposed on supercomputers performing at 195 MTOPS and higher in May 1992, based on a bilateral arrangement with Japan, the other major supercomputer-exporting country.75

As required by the Export Enhancement Act of 1992, the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee submitted to Congress a report entitled "Toward a National Strategy" in September 1993.76 That report presented a strategic plan that included as one key element changing the standard for a supercomputer from 195 MTOPS to 2,000 MTOPS.77

In February 1994, the Department of Commerce raised the licensing threshold for the export of supercomputers to most destinations from 195 MTOPS to 1,500 MTOPS or higher. At the same time, the United States announced that it had reached agreement with Japan, the other partner in the "supercomputer regime," regarding the new supercomputer definition of 1,500 MTOPS. The United States also announced that it would continue to seek Japanís agreement to further increase the supercomputer threshold to 2,000 MTOPS.78

In April 1994, the Department of Commerce established a new General License "GLX," which would allow certain shipments of any items, including computers up to 1,000 MTOPS that formerly required an individual validated license, to civil end users and nonproliferation end uses in formerly proscribed destinations, including the PRC. The purpose of the new general license was to reduce paperwork and licensing delays for exporters, while focusing controls on exports of "direct strategic concern." The Department of Commerce stated that it established the "GLX" designation to bridge the transition between the termination of COCOM in March 1994 and the establishment of a successor regime.79

In January 1995, the Department of Commerce again revised certain supercomputer requirements. Specifically, Commerce noted that it would conduct annual reviews of the supercomputer definition, threshold levels, safeguards, supercomputer country groupings, and supercomputer licensing requirements. The reviews would examine HPC controls in light of national security and proliferation concerns, technical advancements, and changes in market conditions, and would consider recommendations to revise the controls. The regulations included the following country requirements:

    • A "general license" ó meaning no license required ó was available for all supercomputer exports to supplier countries, which then included only Japan
    • A validated license or re-export authorization was required to export, re-export, or transfer within the country for: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom
    • In addition to a validated license or re-export authorization, a safeguard plan signed by the ultimate consignee, and a certification from the government of the importing country (for supercomputers equal to or greater than 1,950 MTOPS) was required for several countries. These included Austria, Finland, Iceland, Mexico, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and Venezuela
    • A validated license or re-export authorization was required to export or re-export supercomputers to the PRC, and applications were generally to be denied. In the event a license was issued, it would include among the licensing conditions certain safeguards selected from the security conditions listed in the Export Administration Regulations80

Some Reviews That Contributed to High Performance Computer Policy Changes in 1996 Have Been Criticized

On January 25, 1996, after the first periodic review, the Department of Commerce published revised controls for computers in the Export Administration Regulations and identified four computer country groups for export purposes. In announcing the January 1996 revision, the Executive branch stated that one goal of the changes was to permit the government to calibrate control levels and licensing conditions to the national security or proliferation risk posed at a specific destination.81

The Stanford Study

A key element of the 1995 Executive branch review of HPC export controls was a Stanford University study that was commissioned jointly by the Commerce and Defense Departments.82 Among other things, the study was tasked to assess the availability of HPCs in selected countries, and the capabilities of those countries to use HPCs for military and other defense applications.83 The study, released in November 1995, concluded:

    • U.S.-manufactured computer technology between 4,000 and 5,000 MTOPS was widely available and uncontrollable worldwide
    • U.S.-manufactured computer technology up to 7,000 MTOPS would become widely available worldwide and uncontrollable by 1997
    • Many HPC applications used in U.S. national security programs occur at about 7,000 MTOPS and at or above 10,000 MTOPS84

The study also concluded that it would be too expensive for the U.S. Government and industry to maintain the effective control of computing systems with performance levels below 7,000 MTOPS. Further, the study stated that attempts to control computer exports below this level would become increasingly ineffectual, would harm the credibility of export controls, and would unreasonably burden a vital sector of the computer industry. The study also raised concerns about the ability of the U.S. Government to control HPC exports in the future, in light of advances in computing technology and its dispersal worldwide.85

However, the Stanford study had several methodological limitations. It lacked empirical evidence or analysis to support its conclusion that HPCs were "uncontrollable" given both worldwide availability and insufficient resources to control them. Neither the study nor the U.S. Government made estimates of these resources. Also, the study did not assess the capabilities of countries of concern to use HPCs for designated military and proliferation applications, even though that was required by the tasking.86

Seymour Goodman, one of the authors of the 1995 Stanford study, acknowledged that U.S. Government data was inadequate to make this assessment and the study recommended that better data be gathered.87 Furthermore, the study noted that data used from the High Performance Computing Modernization Office was not optimal for the studyís purposes, although it stated that the data was sufficient to "conjecture" that the majority of national security applications were already possible at uncontrollable levels. Also, the study stated that time constraints did not allow a comprehensive review of defense applications.88

In addition to the Stanford study, Executive branch officials have said that they also relied on other analytical products as part of the HPC review process.89 These included:

    • A Defense Department review of military applications90
    • An August 1995 Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) technical assessment of clustering computers91
    • Defense-developed criteria for weapons of mass destruction proliferation behavior92
    • Internet information related to the computer market93

Some officials also referred to two 1995 Commerce Department studies on the worldwide "supercomputer" market and technology trends. These documents supported the conclusion that foreign availability of HPCs, especially in countries of proliferation concern, was limited in 1995, but that technology trends would make HPC technology more readily available throughout the world in the future.94 As a result, it appeared that denying HPC access to proliferating countries in the next century would become increasingly difficult, and perhaps impossible.

Another factor that may have figured in the decision to relax HPC export controls is that the National Security Agency (NSA) ó which had been quite active in the past in HPC controls, including reviewing Commerce license applications to the Commerce Department for exports of HPCs ó changed its approach. Around 1993, the NSA began to ease its involvement in computer export controls. By 1995, NSA had moved away from its activities in the supercomputer area, and had backed out of the high performance computer export control debate entirely.

The stated justification for this change in policy was concern for the health of the U.S. computer industry and the industryís need for exports.

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pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

PRC Acquisition of U.S. Technology
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

PRC Theft of U.S. Nuclear Warhead Design Information
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

High Performance Computers
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

PRC Missile and Space Forces
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Satellite Launches in the PRC: Hughes
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Satellite Launches in the PRC: Loral
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Launch Site Security in the PRC
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 5 | 6

Commercial Space Insurance
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

U.S. Export Policy Toward the PRC
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

Manufacturing Processes
pages 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

pages 1 | 2 | 3

pages introduction | A | B | C | D | E | F

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