Kelly, Cotton, Heinrich, Shaheen Introduce Bill to Prevent China and Russia from Acquiring U.S. Military Knowledge

Today, Senators Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), all members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, along with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, introduced the No Work with Adversaries Act, bipartisan legislation to block the flow of U.S. military knowledge to our adversaries by preventing current and former U.S. servicemembers from working with entities that train the Chinese and Russian militaries.     

The bill follows a September memo from then-Chief of Staff of the Air Force, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., warning Air Force members of the Chinese military’s efforts to recruit U.S. servicemembers to gain specialized U.S. military knowledge. And in June, the administration added flight training and aviation companies to an export control list because of their work training Chinese military pilots.   

“The United States military is the best in the world not just because of our technological advantage, but because our training and tactics are second to none. Our enemies know this and are targeting American servicemembers and veterans to gain insights into that training. This must be stopped. Our bipartisan bill will protect our national security by prohibiting collaboration that helps our adversaries, blunting efforts by China and Russia to exploit our military personnel’s knowledge and skills,” said Senator and 25-year Navy veteran Mark Kelly.     

“The Chinese Communist Party is doing everything it can to steal American military secrets—including targeting former military service members for their knowledge and skills. Congress and the Department of Defense need to work together to ensure this doesn’t happen. This bill will prohibit current and former members of our military from working for one of America’s adversaries,” said Senator Tom Cotton.  

“U.S. service members develop and deploy a unique perspective when it comes to our defense strategy, capabilities, tactics, and more. They are entrusted to safeguard sensitive national security information even after they retire from active duty. Protecting critical and sensitive knowledge from our foreign adversaries is a clear and commonsense measure to protect our vital national security interests,” said Senator Martin Heinrich.  

“The ongoing campaign by the Chinese Communist Party to lure and recruit our service members and veterans poses a real threat to our national security,” said Senator Shaheen, senior member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees. “We need to understand the full scope of these malign efforts, take urgent action to prohibit any such employment of former service members with the CCP and hold accountable the bad actors.” 


According to the Department of Defense (DoD), the Chinese military has targeted the recruitment of current and former U.S. servicemembers to exploit the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by the U.S. military. These efforts have been undertaken by entities overtly and covertly linked to the Chinese Communist Party. Similar efforts to recruit NATO-trained pilots have been exposed in the United Kingdom and reported in other allied nations like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. As members of national security-focused committees, the Senators have been reviewing the threat posed by this recruitment over the past year.   

In October, Senate Armed Services Committee members Kelly, Cotton, and Shaheen sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calling on the DoD to “take all action that is immediately available to resist this targeted recruitment of veterans and separating service members,” including disseminating counterintelligence to educate servicemembers of the threat. The senators also requested a briefing on DoD’s ongoing efforts to rebut the threat. That followed Shaheen and Cotton’s work to include a provision in the Senate Armed Services version of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), backed by Kelly, that would prohibit separating service members from employment with the security and military services of the CCP and other adversaries. This legislation seeks to address this urgent and ongoing threat to U.S. national security.     

The No Work with Adversaries Act, which originated as an amendment offered to the Senate-passed FY 2024 NDAA, restricts all current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces from knowingly accepting employment with an entity seeking to acquire sensitive military information or capabilities for the Chinese or Russian governments.   

Click here for full bill text.