On Feb. 22, Russia asked for permission to begin fly-over’s of the US, using planes that are fitted out with powerful digital, surveillance cameras. While this may sound like something out of really bad spy novel, it is true. The Russian photos, if allowed, will be used to assist Russia in gathering various types of intelligence and it is all legal according to a treaty known as Open Skies of which the US is a signatory. As one might imagine, US intelligence as well as military officials are concerned about this action.
Under the Open Skies Treaty, unarmed planes are allowed to fly over geography of the signatories—there are 34 nations in the treaty—in order to check on military activities as well as check on arms control agreements. While the spirit of the treaty may seem noble, many US officials are worried that Russia will take advantage of its access and use advanced tech to gather information and intel outside the scope of the treaty. This is especially concerning given recent tensions between the US and Russia’s dealings in Syria and elsewhere. The treaty was entered into back in 2002, under President George W. Bush’s administration.
According to the rules of the treaty, 120 day advance notice is required before flights may be conducted. Also, procedures are to be in place that allow for the inspection of the digital sensors to be used to confirm that meet treaty requirements.
In a letter from Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command sent to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, chairman of a House subcommittee on strategic forces, Haney said: “In addition to overflying military installations, Russian Open Skies flights can overfly and collect on Department of Defense and national security or national critical infrastructure. The vulnerability exposed by exploitation of this data and costs of mitigation are increasingly difficult to characterize.”
There are those, however, in the Obama administration such as the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Rose Gottemoeller, who have been supportive of the treaty. Back in December, she told a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees that: “One of the advantages of the Open Skies Treaty is that information—imagery—is shared openly among all the treaty parties. So one of the advantages with the Open Skies Treaty is that we know exactly what the Russians are imaging, because they must share the imagery with us.”
Various senior members of the military disagree, stating that Russia has not lived up to its part of the treaty and therefore should not be allowed full access to US fly over’s. The treaty requires all signatories to grant full access over land for observation purposes, yet Russia has placed various restrictions over what it will allow to be observed.
Whether permission will be given or not is not known at the time of this writing.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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