Two retired military officers told Newsmax Friday that the United States' response to a Chinese balloon hovering over the nation was "pathetic."
"This is first and foremost a test of [U.S.] resolve and the absolutely feckless, pathetic response where they can't come to the intuitive conclusion to defend American airspace," Retired Col. John Mills, former director of cybersecurity policy for the Department of Defense, said during "The Chris Salcedo Show" Friday. "Did this actually escape and evade through our existing radar system? And then once it's there, we can't come to the intuitive conclusion to engage? If this was [a U.S. balloon] over China, they would shoot it down in a nanosecond."
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters Thursday that the Chinese balloon, traveling across the continental United States "at an altitude well above commercial air traffic [that] does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground," was spotted several days ago, but has not been engaged by the military due to concerns about debris injuring people on the ground, the Associated Press reported.
According to the report, President Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation, and the Pentagon is monitoring the balloon and has communicated with China.
While the Pentagon believes it is some kind of "surveillance" device gathering information for China, officials there said it is a civilian device meant to collect scientific data that went off course due to wind currents in the upper atmosphere, the BBC reported.
"Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course," the BBC reported Chinese officials saying. "The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure."
Retired Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who was also on Newsmax Friday, said that he would have shot the balloon down immediately for violating U.S. airspace and international law.
"If I were in charge, the correct procedure would be put up an F-15 [or] F-22 and take it down," Shaffer said. "We will track it to where it goes, we will pick up the debris either online or in [the] sea, and return it to the Chinese and say 'nice try,' but they didn't do that."
Shaffer said the balloon was a "provocation" to test the United States.
"This is clearly a provocation," Shaffer said. "It's a provocation, simple and clear. The Chinese could do any number of things to get intelligence. This is meant to have the effect it's having, to test our resolve and system defenses, and obviously we're failing badly across the board."
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