Ed's Blog

"Some people know everything, but that's all they know."


DIA Director Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum

The minute Gen. Mike Flynn decided he could fly solo in his interaction with Russian officials, his fate was sealed. This happened before President Donald Trump selected him to be his national security advisor or when he lied to Vice President Pence about his phone conversation with the Russian ambassador. It likely began in 2015 when he traveled to Russia to participate in a forum and he met with Vladimir Putin .

As a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency it’s not as if Gen. Flynn doesn’t have plenty of experience dealing with foreign intelligence officials (friendly and not so friendly), although I doubt he met with them alone. Furthermore, his career in U.S. Army military Intelligence wasn’t in counter-intelligence or counter-espionage. Why is that important? Because counter-intelligence trained people never forget that practically every Russian or Chinese government official, especially diplomats, are always spotting and assessing individuals susceptible to recruitment, people they can elicit information from or useful idiots they can use.

Understanding the breadth and depth of their efforts and the measures the United States uses to counter them makes one far more sensitive to the danger that exists when you appear on their radar. I suspect Gen. Flynn didn’t fully appreciate the risk he was taking, or he just became overconfident in himself. He should have known that any phone conversation with the Russian ambassador would be tapped by NSA and made available to the Department of Justice. If he had, he never would have kept the Vice President in the dark. I heard in a news report today that Gen. Flynn knew he was under surveillance. If that’s true, the first thing he should have done was immediately make the President and Vice President aware of what he was doing and saying, but apparently he didn’t.

Throughout my 43-year career in the military and as a Department of Defense civilian I’ve seen this happen too many times. A military officer or civilian official decides he has the skills or rank to meet with Russian or Chinese officials on his own for the purpose of improving U.S.-Russia or U.S.-China relations. He allows himself to believe that there is no requirement to take someone else along or report his contact to the FBI or his superior to ensure that nothing in the meeting or conversation comes back to bite him.

Three individuals I know were convicted and went to jail because of their contacts with Chinese officials. Others were harshly counseled or their careers were ruined. As the senior country director for China in the office of the Secretary of Defense, I met with Chinese attaches and diplomats on a regular basis. I even had one defect to me in my office. I either took someone along to lunches and meetings with them, or I reported my contacts to the FBI. I knew never to say anything to a Chinese official I didn’t want my boss reading back to me.

I have no doubt that Gen. Flynn is a patriot and had nothing but the best intentions. His service to America has been exemplary. We have not yet seen a transcript of the phone conversation between Gen. Flynn and the Russian ambassador, and I doubt we ever will given how it was obtained, so we don’t know if he gave the ambassador assurances about what the Trump Administration might do after the election on U.S. sanctions on Russia or if the subject only came up tangentially. Personally, I would be surprised if it was the former. Gen. Flynn has enormous staff experience and knew that staff officers don’t make such commitments to foreign governments. Despite accusations by Democrats, it’s also highly unlikely that President Trump told him what to tell the Russian, otherwise, there would have been no reason to lie to the Vice President.

Serving at the highest levels in the national security establishment is a high honor and rare opportunity to serve your country. In that sense, it can be extremely rewarding. At the same time it often is like walking on a wire over an alligator pit. When you slip and fall there is no forgiveness and there are no second chances.


Filed under: China-Taiwan, Military, National Security, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

JOURNEY TO AN UNKNOWN DESTINATION: In the Company of Great Americans

Beside Birddog at Vung Tau Apr 67

If you wonder why I haven’t posted anything on this blog recently, it’s because I’ve been writing my memoir for the past several months. It will still be a while before it’s published, because I’m having several people review the manuscript before I submit it to the Department of Defense for security review. Like everyone else in government who had a Top Secret security clearance, I signed a non disclosure agreement that requires me to submit any book that deals with what I did in government for review before I can publish it. Since many of you who know me or worked with me over the years are in the book, I want to keep you up to date as we move forward. To whet your interest, here’s the synopsis.


Life is a journey to an unknown destination, best traveled in the company of Great Americans. Ed Ross’ life is just such a story. This incredible no-holds-barred, first-person memoir reveals the good the bad and the evil of a 43-year career in the military and government, with stories of triumph, tragedy, murder, espionage, suicide, defection, terrorism, bureaucratic politics, sacrifice for love of country and associations with great Americans. It begins with a small child running free on the streets of Swissvale, Pennsylvania. Drafted into the U.S. Army in 1965, he becomes a highly decorated artillery observer with the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam, where he comes face to face with the reality of death. Recruited by U.S. Army Military Intelligence, he becomes a clandestine case officer and returns to Vietnam as a covert intelligence operative, running sensitive, deep-cover operations against the Viet Cong. Following his second tour in Vietnam he serves as the chief counter-intelligence/counter-espionage in the 500th Military Intelligence Group, Hawaii, responsible for the Asia-Pacific Theater of operations. Studying Chinese at the Defense Language Institute in Anacostia, Maryland, and the American Embassy School for Chinese Language and Area Studies in Taichung, Taiwan, becoming fluent and literate in Chinese, he receives his master’s degree at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and is assigned as a senior China analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., where he writes Defense and National Intelligence Estimates on China and Taiwan that help change the course of history. As a U.S. military attaché in the People’s Republic of China, he opens the door to U.S.-China defense relations. Medically retired from the U.S. Army in 1984 with life threatening end-stage renal disease, he receives a kidney transplant the following year and goes on to a 23-year career in Washington, D.C., as the Special Assistant for China in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he is the architect of U.S. arms sales to China and oversees sensitive U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. As Acting Deputy Assistant of Defense for POW/MOIA Affairs, he creates the Defense Prisoner of war Missing in Action Office and leads the Department of Defense through the intense scrutiny of the American people, the media and the Congress of the controversy over accounting for MIAs in Southeast Asia. As Principal Director for Operations in the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, he led at the nexus where grand strategy and amorphous bureaucracy converged to train and equip friends and allies around the world. A novelist and a columnist, he is a prolific writer.

Check back for updates.

Filed under: Books, China-Taiwan, Movies-TV, National Security, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,



We might forgive NBC Sports for glossing over the evils of Soviet communism during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, if it weren’t for all those young men and women, born since the fall of Soviet Union, that have no memories of the Cold War or the “evil empire.” Given the U.S. education system these days, I doubt they learned much about it in school.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

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chinese _chess

China extending its air-defense identification zone (ADIZ) to include the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, of which Japan has administrative control, is China’s latest move in the strategic chess game for power and influence in Asia. It’s one more step in China’s strategy to erode U.S. and its ally’s military superiority in the region. The Obama administration’s “pivot” or “rebalancing” to Asia is intended to counter China’s strategy, but it will only work if Washington firmly stands its ground when China challenges it.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

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China cyberattacks

When I was an analyst in the Defense Intelligence Agency in the early 1980s we used to say that if grains of sand on a beach were bits of intelligence information Moscow would send a large bulldozer onto the beach and scoop up as much as it could. Beijing, on the other hand, would send a million Chinese and each person would put a handful of sand in their pocket. The Chinese, for all their progress, haven’t changed; that’s how they hack into U.S. networks and steal U.S. military and trade secrets.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: China-Taiwan, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is the perfect example of what will happen when rogue regimes acquire nuclear weapons. They use them to intimidate their enemies, extort concessions from those that will negotiate with them, and sell the technology to the highest bidder. Regime change or war is the only way to stop them.  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

Filed under: China-Taiwan, National Security, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Where does Mitt Romney stand on China? What kind of China policy will he pursue if elected?  (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

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China’s growing military power poses a serious long-term threat to U.S. national security interests and makes a future military confrontation with China increasingly likely, if not inevitable. Last week, the Department of Defense (DoD) provided Congress its “Annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” It’s another in a long list of reports and assessments chronicling the incessant rise of China’s military power that increasingly will challenge America’s dominant power in Asia, the Pacific, and around the world in the 21st century. (Read the full column at EWRoss.com)

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In the early 1950s, one of the great debates in Washington, D.C., was over “Who lost China?” It was a highly charged and deadly serious partisan-political blame game to fix responsibility for allowing the Chinese Communist to seize control of China and drive the government of the Republic of China (ROC) to the island of Taiwan (Formosa). The world is vastly different now than it was then; but when it comes to finger-pointing, Washington, D.C. is not; and the seeds of a “who-lost-Taiwan” debate have been planted. (More)

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America as we know it faces the ultimate existential threat—a new world order (not the conspiracy theory) at which America is no longer the hub—and it will take much more than a change of the occupant in the White House to stem the tide.

America has faced many existential threats in its 335-year history. In every case, it has emerged stronger, more prosperous, and better prepared for the next one. Politically, economically, and militarily we have become the hub of the modern world order. That order is now threatened by the confluence of our monumental national debt, a global economic crisis, political upheaval in the Arab and Muslim worlds, the rise of China, and the desire by many countries that have benefited from the current order to change it.  (More)

Filed under: China-Taiwan, Climate Change, National Security, Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Has President Barack Obama changed the rationale that has underpinned U.S. arms sales to Taiwan for 30 years, adopting a new U.S. geo-strategic perspective on U.S.-China relations? If so, what risk does that entail for the United States? U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been a contentious issue in U.S.-China relations since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in January 1979. Since then, U.S. presidents have strived to meet the requirements of the Taiwan Relations Act – to provide Taiwan the defense articles and services it requires to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability – as they worked to improve the on-again/ off-again U.S.-China relationship. (More)

Filed under: China-Taiwan, , , , , , , ,


The Taiwan Strait and the island of Taiwan.

Image via Wikipedia

Listen:  Behind This Week’s Column:

With all we see on our TV screens these days—union protests in Wisconsin, upheaval in the Middle East, the devastating earthquake in Japan—it’s no wonder that only die-hard China hands are paying close attention to the evolving status quo in the ongoing Chinese Civil War.

Which civil war is that? It’s the one that began in the 1920s between the Chinese Communists and Nationalists and was never settled by an armistice, peace treaty or surrender. It’s the one that resulted in three major Taiwan Strait Crises (1954-55, 1958, and 1995-96). It’s the one in which, today, China arrays 1500 short- and medium-rang ballistic missiles and its armed forces along the Taiwan Strait aimed at Taiwan, even as China and Taiwan enjoy an unprecedented level of cross-strait interaction. And it’s the one many U.S. policy makers wish would just go away.  (More)

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THE FUTURE OF U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS: The Kissinger Perspective

Henry Kissinger and Chairman Mao, with Zhou En...

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Henry Kissinger’s January 13, 2010, column, appearing in the Washington Post, “Avoiding a U.S.-China cold war,” lays out the former Secretary of State’s vision for the future of U.S.-China relations on the eve of Chinese President Hu Jin-Tao’s visit to the United States. In classic Kissinger style he offers a geo-strategic vision for how the world’s two dominant powers of the 21st century should get along. “The aim should be to create a tradition of respect and cooperation so that the successors of the leaders meeting now continue to see it in their interest to build an emerging world order as a joint enterprise.” A lofty goal, to be sure, but is building a new world order with China as a joint enterprise in America’s best interest?  (More)

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THE PERENNIAL CHINA-POLICY DEBATE: Conciliation vs. Carrots and Sticks

In this political cartoon, the United Kingdom,...

Image via Wikipedia

Bill Gertz of the Washington Times in his October 20 “Inside the Ring” column reports on the current China-policy debate within the Obama administration. He identifies two opposing groups—the “kowtow” group, and the “sad and disappointed” group. Twenty-five years ago we called them the “convert-them-to-Christianity-and-democracy” group and the “let’s-just-outsmart-them” group. The U.S. players in the perennial China-policy debate change as administrations come and go, but the fundamental differences between two classic approaches to China remain the same. (More)

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