Launch Site Security in the PRC
Deficiencies Observed in the Current System
U.S.-PRC Technical Discussions Occur Prior to The Issuance of Export Licenses
When a U.S. satellite manufacturer applies for an export license for the satellite and related technical data, the Department of State or the Department of Commerce notifies the Defense Department that monitors will be needed to oversee the launch and the technical interchange meetings. However, technical discussions are conducted over the telephone or through informal personal discussions and marketing meetings prior to the license being issued.
This illustrates the fact that U.S. satellite manufacturers are on the honor system, to a large extent, in ensuring that no licensable technical data is exchanged in the absence of a Defense Department monitor.21
Although Defense Technology Security Administration Director David Tarbell agrees that "anything is possible," he believes it is not likely that a technology transfer would occur during early contractual discussions of this type. Tarbell says that conversations in these early stages would relate to the type of satellite the buyer wants, not how the satellite would be launched.22
Technology Transfer Control Plans and Security Plans Vary Throughout the Space Industry
The current U.S. Government export control system requires industry to formulate a variety of required plans, including Technology Transfer Control Plans and Security Plans. These plans are provided to the Defense Department for review and approval. However, the plans vary from company to company, despite the fact that the launch facilities are the same, and the processing procedures of each company are similar.
Tarbell comments that, although standardization of the plans would be desirable, some degree of flexibility should be allowed, and any standardization should not rise to the level of rulemaking.23
Temporary Assignments of Defense Department Monitors Disrupt Continuity of Launch Site Security
Because the Defense Department did not have the resources to allow its permanent staff to participate as monitors on a regular basis, the Defense Technology Security Administration decided that the monitors for communications satellite launch campaigns in the PRC and U.S.-PRC technical interchange meetings should be drawn from the Air Force Space Command.24 According to one former Defense Department official, an individual often is chosen to be a monitor by Space Command because he or she is between jobs or may be expendable.25
The duration and living conditions of these assignments make them even more unappealing. In addition, these assignments are unpopular with commanding officers because they do not enhance the Space Command mission, and because participation by their personnel could be construed as indicating that they have excess resources at their disposal.
The lack of a permanent corps of Defense Department monitors with relevant technical experience has drawn criticism from the space industry.26
An aggravating circumstance is the frequent rotation of monitors throughout the launch campaign. During the five-to-eight week duration of one PRC launch, for example, as many as five monitors were rotated in and out of the site.27 Additional monitors may have participated in technical interchange meetings that occurred prior to the launch.28
Frequent rotation results in a lack of continuity and consistency in monitoring decisions during the technical interchange meetings and the launch. The information discussed during a technical interchange meeting is often based on the information discussed during a preceding meeting.
Thus, a new monitor coming into a meeting without having attended the previous meeting is not aware of what particular information the previous monitor may have either prohibited or allowed the participants to discuss. Additionally, as one former Defense Department monitor opined, "The knowledge base thatís required from one technical meeting to the other sets the precedents for the next one." 29
The same is true at the launch site. A series of Defense Department monitors coming and going disrupts continuity. According to one security official, ". . . to have three different DTSA [Defense Department] representatives is very difficult from a security perspective because . . . they each have their own areas of specialty, they each have their own background and limited experience." 30
For example, while the first Defense Department monitor assigned to the launch when the satellite arrives in the PRC is responsible for ensuring that the facility is secure, in one instance a replacement monitor toured the facility and made a series of changes to the physical security plan that had been found to be satisfactory by the
An Inadequate Number of Defense Department Monitors Is Assigned to PRC Launches
While the number of Defense Department monitors assigned to a launch site has varied over the years, it has been standard practice to assign only one or two monitors at a time to launches in the PRC.
However, a July 1993 order of the Secretary of the Air Force directed that:
Air Force Space Command will identify two to five qualified technology safeguard monitors for each satellite program, depending on the programís scope, complexity and duration.
Further, for each launch campaign (typically five to eight weeks), Space Command will ensure that two to four monitors are present at the launch site at all times.
To accomplish this, Space Command will assign one lead monitor to remain at the foreign launch base for the duration of the mission, and will typically form two teams of two monitors each to accompany the lead monitor. Each team of two will be at the foreign launch site for about five weeks, (nominally), plus a week of travel time for each team (counting both legs of the trip).32
Some company representatives believe that one Defense Department monitor is adequate during the course of a normal launch campaign to cover technical interchange meetings and to monitor technology at the site. This, they say, is largely because most of the technical discussions have already occurred during the years leading up to the launch. One companyís security manager says meetings with the PRC at a launch never would occur without the presence of the Defense Department monitor.33 In the event of a launch failure, however, more monitors may be necessary.
The sole Defense Department monitor at the Intelsat 708 failure had difficulty working alone to oversee interactions between the PRC, Loral employees, and the private security force to ensure that no technology would be transferred as a result of the failure. The monitor recalls that:
Following the destruction of the Long March 3B, Loral upper management completely took over the operation of satellite piece recovery and ignored my advice to delay piece recovery until the area became safe and a meeting between PRC, Loral and myself could control the situation.
As a result, at least two technicians returned from the crash site complaining of bulging eyes and severe headache requiring a 5-minute oxygen treatment.
I believe we were lucky we recovered 63.5 percent of the vehicle [rocket] along with the [satelliteís] encryption-decryption equipment.34
This same monitor says he was not able to keep the Loral program manager from traveling to the crash site unaccompanied before the site was declared safe.35
Uneven Prior Technical Experience Of the Defense Department Monitors
Without a permanently assigned corps of Defense Department monitors, matching the experience of the monitor to the necessary tasks is difficult. Program officers, instead of engineers, have been used as monitors.36
Some company personnel noted that the Defense Department monitors have different backgrounds, and their technical expertise, therefore, varies.37 By and large, the security managers interviewed by the Select Committee believed that the Defense Department monitors had the necessary technical expertise to keep pace with discussions between the company engineers and the PRC.38
The space industry has indicated that the Defense Department should maintain an adequate staff of trained professionals in monitoring technology transfer at foreign launches, with the end result being more uniformity overall.39
The Defense Department monitors participate in a three-day training course to prepare for assignments. The training is conducted by Air Force Space Command and includes such topics as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Export Administration Regulations, Memorandums of Agreement, Licensing Provisos, Technology Transfer Control Plans, Security Plans, Daily Logs, Incident Reports and Trip Reports.40 Training also includes formal briefings by the Defense Department, and continues on an ad hoc basis with regard to particular licenses.41 As launch numbers have increased, there have been more training sessions that incorporate lessons learned during past launches to prepare monitors for future assignments.42
Inadequate Headquarters Review of Monitor Reports
The July 1993 order of the Secretary of the Air Force directed that the lead Defense Department monitor for each launch campaign must maintain a complete daily log of events during that campaign. This daily log must include records of each meeting between the U.S. satellite manufacturer and the foreign launch provider, and it must summarize all decisions affecting technology security.43
The monitors are instructed to fax their daily logs to both Space Command and the Defense Technology Security Administration (now the Technology Security Directorate).44 Because the fax machines often are not reliable at PRC launch sites, Space Command also faxes the monitor logs to the Defense Technology Security Administration to ensure that they are received.45
The lead Defense Department monitor is required to report the satellite processing status and plans, along with any safeguarding problems and recommendations, to the Defense Technology Security Administration (now the Technology Security Directorate), and also to Space Command at least once a week during a launch campaign.46
Space Command is responsible for the receipt and storage of reports that the Defense Department monitors prepare and send while they are on assignment at a launch site abroad.47
The Director of the Defense Technology Security Administration, David Tarbell, says he is not aware whether Defense Department monitorsí reports are first received at his agency and reviewed, or whether they are sent directly to Space Command prior to being warehoused there.48
Although Space Command schedules the monitors and is considered to be a flow-through point for reports from the monitors, Space Commandís interaction with the monitors is administrative, not substantive, and similar to that of a program manager. Yet, Space Command receives daily activity logs from Defense Department monitors that contain information concerning security incidents and infractions at the launch site.49
Tarbell stressed that it is the Defense Department monitorís responsibility to assure that serious incidents are brought directly to Headquartersí attention.50 Less significant security infractions are reported to both Space Command and the Defense Technology Security Administration via the monitorís daily logs.
Actual entries from Defense Department monitorsí logs appear at the end of this chapter.
According to Defense Technology Security Administration officials, only two security matters reported by Defense Department monitors have been raised to the attention of the Director in the past 13 months.51
Lack of Headquartersí Support
Some Defense Department monitors have reported difficulties in contacting Defense Technology Security Administration management in the United States while they are on a PRC launch campaign.
One Defense Department monitor noted in his daily log, during a PRC launch operation in 1998: ". . . Attempted to contact the DTSA office in Washington, however, all personnel were TDY [away on temporary duty]." 52
Another Defense Department monitor also attempted to contact the Defense Technology Security Administration in Washington on another date, and also was told all personnel were away on temporary assignments.53
The Defense Department monitor assigned to the Loral-Intelsat 708 launch in the PRC reports that he attempted unsuccessfully to resolve repetitive security infractions during that launch. He indicated that he then attempted to contact Space Command in Colorado, and wrote several memoranda to his superiors at the Defense Technology Security Administration.54 That official then had to telephone Loral directly to have the deficiencies reviewed and corrected.55 Following the phone call, the Defense Department monitor acknowledged security had "greatly improved." 56
The Loral site security supervisor for the Intelsat 708 launch indicates that the Defense Technology Security Administration did not support the monitor in attendance at that launch. The monitor reportedly had no security plans provided to him by the agency beforehand, and had to make on-the-spot decisions concerning the release of documents.57
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