The head of the Air Force has urged all personnel to report contact with foreign companies who try to recruit them for potentially lucrative employment overseas. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, who is also the White House’s pick for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, wrote a memo distributed to everyone in the Air Force warning that those with “specialized knowledge” are being recruited for jobs that lead to training of members of the Chinese military. Pilots are acknowledged to be the top of that heap but the Washington Post reported that equipment maintainers and landing signals officers are also prime targets, perhaps reflecting China’s rapid development of a potent carrier force.

Brown said China’s campaign often involves third party companies either owned or supported by the Chinese government who offer lucrative sales or support jobs that gradually morph into training of military personnel. “By essentially training the trainer, many of those who accept contracts with these foreign companies are eroding our national security, putting the very safety of their fellow servicemembers and the country at risk,” Brown wrote.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, didn’t refute Brown’s claims but urged the U.S. government “to respect the normal business activities carried out by relevant companies, and not to generalize and abuse the concept of national security and smear relevant companies.” Brown’s memo came a few days after Canadian officials named three ex-fighter pilots who are working as flight instructors in China. All three have contracts with the Test Flying Academy of South Africa. The school has repeatedly denied suggestions it or its contractors are doing anything illegal.

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