This article was originally published at 5:32 p.m. on April 11 and has been updated.
Generally speaking, the VPU officers are those who earned the highest evaluations during their first tour, the officer said.
The squadrons are set aside for "national-level tasking," the officer said, which could mean any number of things but the details of their missions are highly classified.
"They have the coolest stuff, as much of it as they need and what they do with it is classified," the officer said.
The squadrons have been known to fly planes with high-tech electronic surveillance gear designed to look like standard maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft, according to a website dedicated to P-3 Orions and their missions.
Who is Edward Lin?
Lin enlisted in the Navy in 1999 and was in the nuclear power training pipeline until he was picked up for officer candidate school in 2002, according to his bio.
An attorney for Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin says his client is innocent of espionage charges. Lin, a native of Taiwan, spoke at his naturalization ceremony in 2008.
Photo Credit: MC1 Sarah Murphy/Navy
He was commissioned in May of that year and went on to flight training and then NFO school. Over the next 11 years he joined a handful of squadrons around the country, did a sea tour on the carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower and a shore tour at the Navy's comptroller's office at the Pentagon.
Lin moved to the U.S. when he was 14 from Taiwan, and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1998. He spoke at a 2008 naturalization ceremony, where he said he grew up dreaming of coming to America.
"I always dreamt about coming to America, the 'promised land,'" he said, according to a Navy release from the 2008 event. "I grew up believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland."
He joined the special projects unit in the spring of 2014, according to his bio.
The judge has 10 days from the Article 32 hearing to recommend whether the case should be referred to court-martial.
Correction: A previous version of this article erroneously stated the year Lin became a U.S. citizen. It was 1998.
David B. Larter was the naval warfare reporter for Defense News.