”Preparedness is the key to success and victory.” – General of the Army, Douglas MacArthur
The preparedness, the experience, the background and drive of quality leadership whether in business, the military or in office, is the linchpin of long term success and achievement.
This writer has been privileged to have interviewed many military leaders; Officers with the drive to achieve and succeed built on many aspects of their lives. Some of that is personal education achievements. Some, their military experience and mindset to create better, more successful outcomes in specific situations.
Brigadier General Robert Spalding is one such leader, globally recognized for his knowledge of Chinese economic competition and influence. He is accomplished through a lifetime of fundamental components that prepare and confirm his objectives. As a basis for your understanding of his views below, consider the following:
Extensive educational background with studies:
Bachelor of Science, Agricultural Business
Master of Science, Agricultural Business
Defense Language Institute Chinese-Mandarin Course, Distinguished Graduate
Doctorate in economics and mathematics
Masters of Science, Strategic Studies
Graduate certificate, Nuclear Weapons Effects, Policy and Proliferation
Important assignments such as:
B-52 Pilot and Aircraft Commander
T-38 and B-2 Pilot, Wing Life Support Officer, Conventional Strike Officer, and Chief of Training
Olmsted Scholar, Tongji University, Shanghai, PRC
Military Asst to the Deputy Asst Sec of Defense, Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Affairs Off, Pentagon
Director, Personal Security Coordination Center, Baghdad
Deputy Dir Strategic Plans/Initiatives Directorate, Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Affairs Off, Pentagon
Deputy Commander, 509th Operations Group
Commander, 509th OG
Chief, China, Mongolia, Taiwan Division, Joint Staff, J-5, the Pentagon
U.S. Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché to China, Beijing
Senior Director for Strategic Planning, National Security Council, White House
Special Assistant to the Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, the Pentagon
[A more complete view of educational and military accomplishments listed at the bottom of this interview]
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ― Sun Tzu (*), The Art of War
Just as our leadership needs to be aware, informed and prepared, so do we as citizens. We all should know what’s going on in our world and how does it / will it affect us. We can’t leave everything to our leaders to know all and protect all. We’re also their support should things take a drastic change in life. And as you can see above, BG Spalding has honed insight into the Chinese culture and activities that have a goal, an agenda, a long term plan that is pro-Chinese and anti-American.
We thank him for taking time out of a very busy schedule [including with FOX’s Laura Ingraham the night before this interview] with current activities to give us some quick and succinct answers to current situations. And do not miss his book, Stealth Wars for more valuable information.
RB ~ Throughout life, we’re influenced by people, events, and situations that define our life’s course. What led you into a military career, and more interesting, what prompted you, especially during these times as we look back, to expand your interest in and proficiency of China?
BGRS ~ In 2000 I was visiting my uncle in Alaska and I thought about applying for a program to study overseas. I thought about where I should look and China immediately came to mind as a strategic rival or collaborator. Of course, we now know which.
RB ~ People love opportunities. The chance to expand a business, make more money. Certainly, businesses like Google, Apple and others have pursued their business ties with fervor in China. But in the course of these activities, it’s almost as though we (and they) have dismissed the fact that this is the largest remaining communist country. Does their 1 billion+ population sway companies’ thinking against their tacit support of these regimes with profit over politics?
BGRS ~ It’s a combination of the 1.4 billion consumers and the way the CCP runs the economy. They can focus the assets of the entire country in a way democratic society cannot. They can direct the banking system to support their companies and can use the power of the government to create an uneven playing field.
RB ~ In general, and with few exceptions, communism has a totalitarian government with high government involvement. This flies in opposition to the capitalistic system we enjoy, and companies sell their corporate souls for the sake of a better bottom line. Does this serve as a changing force in the way these companies run their businesses? What does this allow for our own society?
BGRS ~ In many ways the US has incentivized this behavior. By allowing the CCP companies to follow a different set of rules for operating in America they have encouraged the off-shoring of American jobs. As a result, every board of directors and corporate executives feel compelled to have their business in China.
RB ~ Communist countries are so opposite to our method of governance and social values. Outside of being self-sustaining as a country, should we not separate ourselves in terms of trade, manufacturing, and be a more protectionist country?
BGRS ~ In every way. Much like we did during the Cold War. The CCP is intent on undermining our democracy.
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”
– Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States
RB ~ You’re one of a unique and select group that not only has impressive military credentials but varied accomplishments academically. America appreciates informed and educated military leaders as their overview are somewhat more inclusive than strictly a military perspective. You spent a good amount of time assigned to the Joint Chiefs, certainly an elite cadre of leadership responsible for our country’s defenses, and their basic responsibility would be more military than economic in nature. Did you find that during your time there, was and is there, a concern, an awareness, an effort to be concerned about our economic and social defensive positioning related to China?
BGRS ~ No, but I had a team of China experts that made it our mission to push this message. This started in 2014. Today there is a lot more awareness. We formed a new organization under the Air Force called the Office for Commercial and Economic Analysis. This office was started in 2015 and now has more Ph.D. Economists than the US Trade Representative. It is driving a change in DoD to understand the effects of CCP economic warfare.
RB ~ In a recent discussion with W. Craig Reed, who has existentially researched Putin, Russia and China involvement in military and sea navigation expansion, he mentioned to me the tremendous advancements China has made in their naval capabilities related to new aircraft carrier designs, submarine designs, and torpedo speed and destructive abilities. Do you feel that America is making enough of a comeback, from the less prepared position we were a decade ago, and now prepared to fight any wars of the future considering the expansion that other countries are experiencing?
BGRS ~ Absolutely not. The PLA is now much more powerful in the Indo-Pacific than the US military mostly due to its conventional ballistic and cruise missiles and growing Navy fleet.
RB ~ China has for years been expanding its geographic expansion – doing so through the acquisition of islands, converting them to landing strips, missile housings, and controlling shipping lanes. They’re increasing their personal relationships with countries we might find as adversaries, yet they find friendly resources. Does America have a true awareness and plan to counter these growths that are clearly meant to increase their military capability and preparedness in the south seas?
BGRS ~ The CCP uses its coast guard and maritime militia in a way that our navy is unprepared to counter in the Indo-Pacific. We need to help strengthen the countries in the region so they can fight back.
RB ~ We know that the Asian mentality is to look at the next 25, 50 or 100 years ahead, while Americans are concerned with the next fiscal quarter. You spent a good amount of time studying in China has been at Tongji University, Shanghai, PRC. When you were there nearly 20 years ago, did you find a mindset there for, against or neutral toward America in their staff and student bodies?
BGRS ~ At the time the people were pro-American, but that was because they had just been admitted to the WTO and we had played a big part in that. But they were definitely not interested in democracy. They had been programmed by the CCP to believe they could not handle democracy.
RB ~ Some have expressed that this current virus spread was possibly deliberate on the part of China to test and weaken other countries’ defenses economically and thereby possibly militarily. We know they have had less than stellar concern for their own citizens, visitors and certainly the rights of other countries. Will America learn a lesson from this pertaining to economic, military, societal separation and protectionism in the future? As they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.
RB ~ Do we face an immediate risk of Chinese biologically weaponized viruses coming into this country?
BGRS ~ [BG Spalding worked on China issues on the National Security Council under the Trump administration] “There is a threat” posed by Chinese nationals carrying biological samples but it’s “likely the carrier would be someone who is unwitting,” making it hard to determine the intent. “Some likely could be deliberate, to test our ability to identify and intercept. Others could be opportunistic.” [Recent article with BG Spalding on Yahoo News – “Suspected SARS virus and flu samples found in luggage: FBI report describes China’s ‘biosecurity risk.'”]
BGRS ~ I think the coronavirus will cause Americans to rethink the relationship. Change is coming.
‘‘The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” — General Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. Army
RB ~ In Gordan Chang’s 2001 book, The “Coming Collapse of China,” he predicted the fall of the China we knew. In 2012 he revised his view without totally withdrawing it. Justin Yifu Lin, the World Bank’s chief economist, believed the country could continue its growth and the International Monetary Fund predicted China’s economy would surpass America’s in size by 2016. This hasn’t happened for a number of reasons including the Communist Party turning its back on Deng Xiaoping’s progressive policies. Will the US fight this growing threat to our west that could overtake and harm us economically and militarily?
BGRS ~ I think this coronavirus will empower the Trump administration to actually make the kind of changes we need to rebuild and strengthen America.
RB ~ In your own book, “Stealth War: How China Took Over While America’s Elite Slept,” you specifically and succinctly lay out the threat this communist-run country presents to our country and our freedoms. You present six areas of intrusion and concern. Can you quickly give a comment of these areas of invasion?
1. Economy – The CCP has a predatory and parasitic economy that seeks to consistently undermine and consume the innovation, technology, talent, and capital of free economies. The CCP does not believe in free trade.
2. Military – The CCP seeks to use its relationships with other rogue regimes as proxies to keep the US perpetually pinned down in conflicts. It steals US military technology to preclude a big R&D budget. Finally, it used the fact that the US was a signatory to the INF treaty to ensure it had
3. Diplomacy – The CCP diplomats feign acceptance of international rules and norms while simultaneously working to undermine them.
4. Technology – The CCP has designed a strategy to completely dominate the high technology areas of the future. They want indigenous production of all the areas that drive the 21st century.
5. Education – The CCP uses the education system to both acquire information and promote its narrative everywhere
6. and Infrastructure – The CCP uses the Belt and Road Initiative to promote its political power beyond its borders.
RB ~ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, “I think American businesses are waking up to the risks.” America has been blind to this “stealth” intrusion with their ownership of major corporate groups like AMC Theaters, Smithfield Foods, GE Appliances, Motorola Mobility, and Ingram Micro, and even the iconic Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Does this takeover of domestic businesses present a threat equal to or greater than the presence of American companies in China?
BGRS ~ Definitely a greater threat because they use these relationships to influence the societies where these companies are domiciled.
RB ~ To your point of the Chinese military and technology invasion, so many in this country try to “play nice” with China, yet their presence represents that existential threat to us that so many ignore. Having your career in the Air Force, you’ve seen first hand the needs for superior technology and yet we’re giving it away with the exchange of a check. The reporting of Joe Biden and his son in the China business deals has been glossed over as some high paid “hedge fund” deal when in fact it involved China’s dealing with Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), a Chinese state-run military contractor, wanting to acquire Henniges Automotive with a 51 percent stake purchase. The remaining 49 percent to be purchased by Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), a private equity firm founded by then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and funded with $1.5 billion from the Chinese government via the Bank of China. BHR was buying companies that were involved in America’s high-tech sector, and companies that had dual-use technologies with both civilian and military applications; Henniges produces precision-tuned anti-vibration technologies. Why do we allow such treason within our own halls of politics?
BGRS ~ This is how DC is run today. Corruption is endemic to the system. Without term limits, members of the house and senate are prone to be captured by special interests.
RB ~ During our present “virus bail-out,” “subsidy” legislation, there are now congressmen calling for the exclusion of foreign-owned companies from obtaining gov’t assistance as it’s not our job to support foreign companies and look out for America first. Is it time for our gov’t to take a more active role in the acquisition and ownership of American properties?
BGRS ~ Yes, we need to activate the “Defense Production Act” and cut red tape for infrastructure investment.
RB ~ In addition to the more open and overt connections with American companies, politicians and others that are funneling technologies, military, and civilian techniques and general IP, is there an unseen underground of subversive, “treason” in essence, that is destroying us? Simply stated, what will it take to bring back important manufacturing of drugs, electronics and regular goods creating American jobs and securing our future?
BGRS ~ The “Defense Production Act”
RB ~ My dad loved this country dedicating his life to military electronics. Serving in WWII in the signal corpse overseas for 2+ years. He was Sr. Design Engineer for Farnsworth, Motorola and ultimately Good Year Aerospace working on early radar and radio communications, the Minute Man and Sidewinder missiles. Today he’d wonder what’s going on. From your perspective, what can everyday American’s do to inform themselves and be aware, to prepare for unseen events, and what does government need to do to protect us more from this invasion and their willing, culpable and unseen American partners?
BGRS ~ Read my book “Stealth War: HOW CHINA TOOK OVER WHILE AMERICA’S ELITE SLEPT.”
RB ~ In conclusion, your book, ”Stealth War” brings up important topics on how our leaders have failed to protect us over recent decades. What can voters do to impress on our leaders the seriousness of the problems and how we need to deal with this. Simply, what will make the most impression?
BGRS ~ We need a scorecard for how members of congress and senate approach these issues.
”The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.” – George Washington, 1st President of the United States, and Commanding General of the Continental Army
RB ~ Believe it or not, we’re in a conflict with China. Some elements more overt and obvious than others, but we must fight against any force that threatens us; our way of life; our economy; our freedoms, and society in general. It is a hard conflict we face – but with quality leadership, the triumph will be greater for America.
As follow up questions from readers came in, BG Spalding answered his thoughts:
BGRS ~ Ron, “On the origin of the virus – we have no way of knowing”
“On the spread of pandemic – they [China] are definitely responsible since they knew about human to human transmission and let 5 million people leave Wuhan to all corners of the earth.”
We thank Brigadier General Spalding for taking time out of his schedule to spend a few minutes with us regarding this growing awareness of China and their influence on the world. His book makes a fascinating read and you’ll gain additional insight through his short and to the point report: Video 2020 – Rebuilding American Power.
BG SPALDING’S EDUCATION:
1987 Bachelor of Science, Agricultural Business, Fresno State University, Fresno, Calif.
1993 Master of Science, Agricultural Business, Fresno State University, Fresno, Calif.
1998 Marine Corps University Amphibious Warfare Course, Quantico, Va., by correspondence
1999 Squadron Officer School, Distinguished Graduate, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
2001 Defense Language Institute Chinese-Mandarin Course, Distinguished Graduate, Monterey, Calif.
2003 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2006 Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala., by correspondence
2007 Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
2007 Doctorate in economics and mathematics, University of Missouri, Kansas City
2008 Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2008 Masters of Science, Strategic Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2013 Graduate certificate, Nuclear Weapons Effects, Policy and Proliferation, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright – Patterson AFB, Ohio
|EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant Oct. 16, 1991
First Lieutenant Oct. 16, 1993
Captain Oct. 16, 1995
Major Aug. 1, 2002
Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 2006
Colonel Aug. 1, 2011
Brigadier General Nov. 2, 2016
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Rating: command pilot
Flight hours: more than 2,300
Aircraft flown: B-2, B-52, T-38 and T-37Visit his website: https://armchaireconomist.io/
|Dr. Spalding is an Olmsted Scholar, a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. Brigadier General Spalding worked on China issues on the National Security Council under the Trump administration.
He was the chief architect for the Trump Administration’s widely praised National Security Strategy (NSS), and the Senior Director for Strategy to the President at the National Security Council.
BG Robert Spalding’s book is available here through Amazon:
Read BG Spalding’s “Vision 2020” report below:
You can hear Brigadier General Spalding’s podcast with Erskine below:
Listen to “BG Robert Spalding – The many REAL Chinese threats (ep#3-21/20)” on Spreaker.
In the author’s name, Sūn Wu, the character wu, meaning “military”, is the same as the character in wu shu, or martial art.
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