It seems once again that politics rather than national security is at the center of yet another military firing. This time the ax has fallen on Capt. James Fanell, the director of intelligence and information operations at U.S. Pacific Fleet, for voicing his concerns, warning publicly that a recent Chinese amphibious exercise concluded by naval intelligence that China has the capability and perhaps a strategy for launching a “short, sharp war” against Japan.

Those comments however drew an immediate and critical response from both the Pentagon and the administration who have publicly endorsed China as a model of moderation and of the strong alliance between the two countries, however once Capt. Fanell comments were picked up by the media, the Defense Department was forced to quickly do some creative damage control and had no choice but to respond to his comments, however not before relieving the captain of his duties and reassigning him

“It is inappropriate to publicly discuss the internal reassignment of non-command triad personnel,” said a Pentagon spokesman of the reassignment, in a November 7th press briefing.

While the reason for Capt. Fanell firing isn’t exactly clear citing “privacy concerns”, one thing is certain, that this isn’t the captains first brush up with those in authority, in that Capt. Fanell became an outspoken critic of the administration’s political strategy when it comes to national security issues long before his recent comments. In 2014 during a Navel Conference he publicly remarked that naval intelligence believed that China was preparing for a possible war with Japan.

And went on to elaborate further; “We believe the People’s Liberation Army has been given the new task to be able to conduct a short, sharp war to destroy Japanese forces in the East China Sea following with what can only be expected as a seizure of the Senkakus or even southern Ryukyu islands”.

The reason cited by Capt Fanell’s for Beijing’s potential aggression towards Japan may be the ongoing maritime territorial dispute between the two nations and a potential “land-grab” by China that if successful would enhance Beijing’s exclusive economic rights to fishing and natural resources.

Obviously the administration along with the Defense Department and the Pentagon would like to avoid any more publicity and are attempting to put a positive spin on the controversy “What I can tell you about what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel believes is that we all continue to believe that the peaceful, prosperous rise of China is a good thing for the region, for the world,” so says Rear Adm. John Kirby.


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