Former P-3 Mission Commander Carper Welcomes Airmen’s Release, Calls America’s Intelligence Gathering Missions ‘Appropriate’

WILMINGTON, DE – Senator Tom Carper today praised China’s release of America’s captive soldiers, calling the release a “victory for common-sense diplomacy.” Carper also renewed his call to continue intelligence-gathering missions in the South Pacific and elsewhere. A retired Navy Captain, Carper served as Mission Commander for scores of P-3 reconnaissance missions out over the South Pacific and other oceans around the world. Part of his service included tracking Russian nuclear submarines. “I regret the loss of life of the Chinese pilot, but am relieved and delighted for our crew and their families today,” Carper said. “During and after Vietnam, our military went through great pains to provide our troops with the best in survival training. We were taught how to hold up under intense interrogation, lousy quarters, physical abuse and torture. Perhaps my greatest relief is knowing that, throughout this ordeal, our airmen and women did not need to put this training to the test.” Despite the recent conflict over intelligence gathering, Carper believes these types of reconnaissance missions should continue. “It is right and appropriate to conduct intelligence gathering missions of this nature,” Carper said. “As long as we are respectful of the airspace and boundaries of countries like China, these missions have an important place in our nation’s defense and information system.”