Entries in Senate Armed Services Committee (4)


Report: Counterfeit Chinese Parts Slipping into US Military Aircraft

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Counterfeit electronic parts from China are "flooding" into critical U.S. military systems, including special operations helicopters and surveillance planes, and are putting the nation's troops at risk, according to a new U.S. Senate committee report.

A year-long investigation conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee found more than one million suspected counterfeit parts made their way into the Department of Defense's supply chain and were bound for use by "critical" military systems, according to the 70-plus-page document released Monday.  In addition to Navy helicopters and surveillance planes, the parts were slated to be put into the Air Force's newest cargo planes.

"The failure of a single electronic part can leave a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine vulnerable at the worst possible time," the report says.  "Unfortunately, a flood of counterfeit electronic parts has made it a lot harder to prevent that from happening."

Chinese companies were identified as the "primary source" of the counterfeit goods and the Chinese government was criticized for its alleged disinterest in cracking down on counterfeiting there.  The report said that Chinese companies take discarded electronic parts from all over the world, remove any identifying marks, wash and refurbish them, and then resell them as brand-new -- a practice that poses a "significant risk" to the performance of U.S. military systems.

But the committee also pointed a finger at the Pentagon and U.S.-based defense contractors that rely on "hundreds of unvetted independent distributors."

According to the document, the investigation "revealed failures by defense contractors and [the Department of Defense] to report counterfeit parts and gaps in DoD's knowledge of the scope and impact of such parts on defense systems."

"Our committee's report makes it abundantly clear that vulnerabilities throughout the defense supply chain allow counterfeit electronic parts to infiltrate critical U.S. military systems, risking our security and the lives of the men and women who protect it," said Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.).  "As directed by last year's Defense Authorization bill, the Department of Defense and its contractors must attack this problem more aggressively, particularly since counterfeiters are becoming better at shielding their dangerous fakes from detection."

A spokesperson for the Department of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment on this report, but another spokesperson told CNN the Pentagon was aware of the report and officials "looked forward to reviewing it."

"The Department takes very seriously the issue about counterfeit parts," Col. Melinda Morgan said.  "We are working aggressively to address this issue..."

Months after the Senate committee launched its investigation, the Pentagon said in November it was moving to protect against counterfeit parts by modifying policies and improving its internal process as well as working more closely with private companies in the industry.

Then, Defense spokesperson George Little noted that "there has been no loss of life or catastrophic mission failure as a result of these parts entering the supply chain."

Representatives for the Chinese government at its embassy in Washington, D.C. and consulate in New York did not immediately respond to request for comment on this report. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


John McCain Tells Leon Panetta ‘We’re Not Leading’ on Syria

KARIM SAHIB/AFP/​Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, a supporter of U.S. military action to bring down the Assad regime in Syria, told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday that the United States has failed to show unilateral leadership on the crisis in Syria.

The Arizona Republican advocated earlier this week for U.S. air strikes against Syria to help end President Bashar al-Assad’s bloody crackdown of opposition groups.

Panetta, appearing before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to discuss the situation in Syria, said in his opening statement that the United States was reviewing potential steps that could include “potential military options if necessary.”  But he stressed that “although we will not rule out any future course of action, currently the administration is focusing on diplomatic and political approaches rather than a military intervention.”

He made the point that the United States was working with international partners to build "a consensus as to what action we do take. That makes the most sense. What doesn’t make sense is to take unilateral action at this point,” Panetta said.

He said that as defense secretary, he has a responsibility to be sure of the mission and their role in it. Panetta said the Obama administration “believes that every effort ought to be made to deal with those concerns in the international setting to try to build the kind of international consensus that worked in Libya and that can work in Syria if we can develop that.”

McCain disliked that response, saying to Panetta, “let me tell you what’s wrong with your statement.”  He continued, “You don’t mention American leadership. Americans should lead in this, America should be standing up. America should be building coalitions; we shouldn’t have statements like we are not going to intervene no matter what the situation is, such has been up until now the statements by the administration and the president.”

“In past experiences, those that I mentioned before, America has led. Yes, it has been multilateral and multinational, this is absolutely vital. We’re not leading Mr. Secretary,” said McCain.

As he did at another congressional hearing Tuesday, McCain criticized administration statements that the United States is still trying to figure out the make-up of the Syrian opposition. McCain said Tuesday that characterizations that al Qaeda is operating on the fringes of the Syrian opposition are delaying any potential assistance to rebels whom he sees as pursuing democratic freedoms.

He continued in the same vein on Wednesday saying of the opposition, “They are fighting because they want the same freedoms and rights that we guarantee in our Constitution.  I reject the argument that we, quote, ‘don’t know who they are.’”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


McCain Slams Obama Administration for Total Iraq Troop Withdrawal

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday harshly criticized President Obama's decision to withdraw all American forces from Iraq by Dec. 31, against the advice of his top commanders.

The president said last month that he made the decision not to leave behind any troops when Baghdad pulled the solders' immunity from prosecution, a situation that could leave U.S. soldiers charged with crimes during the normal course of military operations.

However, GOP lawmakers, including the top-ranking GOP member on the panel, Arizona Sen. John McCain, said that total withdrawal of forces will leave the Iraqis vulnerable to attacks by al Qaeda and insurgent elements desperate to destabilize the government's fragile democracy.

Facing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, McCain let loose on the administration officials, saying the White House should have renegotiated a new status of forces agreement (SOFA) with Baghdad.

Sen. McCain got Dempsey to admit that neither he nor any generals were in favor of a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq by the end of the year.  In fact, CIA Director David Petraeus, who once commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, had once envisioned leaving 20,000 American troops in the country past 2011.

Panetta told McCain that the administration made every possible effort to restructure SOFA and that he personally spoke with the Iraqi prime minister and his officials to agree on continuing the immunity soldiers had from prosecution, but was ultimately rebuffed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senators Hearing to Target China for Military Counterfeit Goods

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on counterfeit electronic parts in the Defense Department’s supply chain, which, they say, affects  the military’s ability to defend the nation.

“What we’ve learned so far will shock you and will shock the American people,”  Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the  Senate Armed Services Committee,  said Monday in a preview of the hearing, “There’s a flood of counterfeit parts entering the defense supply chain. It is endangering our troops and it is costing us a fortune.”

The committee hearing will take aim at China, which has been singled out as a source of the counterfeit goods, providing U.S. troops with “unreliable” weapons by using “fake parts” that have been “salvaged from trash heaps by Chinese counterfeiters.

“In more than 70 percent of the cases, the trail led to China, where a brazenly open market in counterfeit electronic parts thrives,” Levin said. “Rather than act to address the problem, Chinese authorities have impeded our investigation.”

Witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing who have seen first-hand how counterfeiters in China remove electronic parts from scrapped computers, wash the parts in dirty rivers and dry them on the streets so that they can be resold, will testify about what they’ve seen.

“We’ll hear how the counterfeiters make the scrap look like new parts. And then we’ll hear how these parts are sold openly as new parts in markets in Chinese cities like Shenzhen, the epicenter of the counterfeit trade, and they’re also sold through the Internet to buyers around the world,” Levin said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking member on the committee, said the finding that China had been the culprit in well over half of the counterfeit products is “worrisome but not surprising.

“China has long dominated as a source for counterfeit goods into the United States of America,” McCain said Monday. “We need to realize that this issue is part of a broader challenge we face in our relations with the People’s Republic of China, the fact that it’s falling short in certain important areas of its obligations as a responsible stakeholder in the international system.”

The senators said on Monday they couldn’t solve the counterfeiting problem in China, at least not in the short-term, so the focus should be on improving the way the Department of Defense purchased electronic parts.

“Our military and defense industry must act immediately,” Levin said Monday. “We must modify acquisition rules so that the cost of removing suspect counterfeit parts from defense systems is paid for by the contractor, not by the taxpayer—no ifs, no ands, no buts. And regardless of the type of contract, we should require in all cases that when contractors discover a case of suspected counterfeit parts in a military system that they report that discovery to the military right away, and we should enforce that requirement.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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