‘Hundreds’ of Service Members Are Being Solicited by China for Insider Info, Air Force Says

The Air Force’s top general is warning that China is recruiting the service’s veterans and troops for their institutional military knowledge, and an official told Military.com that “hundreds” of allies and service members could be targeted.

In a Sept. 5 memo sent out to the service late last week, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown warned airmen and allies that China’s People’s Liberation Army “wants to exploit your knowledge and skill to fill gaps in their military capability.”

The memo details that “foreign companies are targeting and recruiting U.S.- and NATO-trained military talent” and — added in a subsequent Air Force press release — the exploitation usually comes in the form of vague contracts or subcontract offers where China is the ultimate recipient of the military expertise.

While the exact number of airmen targeted is not known, a Department of the Air Force official told Military.com at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference on Monday that it likely numbers in the hundreds and extends to other service branches and allies overseas.

One such example, according to the Air Force, came in June 2023 when “the government placed the Test Flying Academy of South Africa on an export control list based on its work to facilitate training and technical support for the PLA using a former U.S. military member.”

The warning comes as Department of the Air Force officials continue to highlight China as a national security threat and that commanders are preparing their strategies with the People’s Liberation Army in mind.

It also represents one of the strongest and most direct warnings from the service about China’s bullish tactics.

An Air Force Office of Special Investigations supervisory special agent said in a press release Friday that “multiple members of the U.S. military who span several specialties are currently being targeted for recruitment by PLA-associated companies.”

The OSI agent, who was not named in the Air Force’s release, said contracts that “seem too good to be true” or lack info about who is receiving the service are a red flag. . . . . (read more on Military.com)

Threats are Out There