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March 23, 2001

Notes from the Pentagon

One percent solution
Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon futurist charged with formulating long-range strategy, is being sniped at, unfairly we are told, by some critics in the armed services and defense contractor community. These critics, we are told, have been trying to cast Mr. Marshall as a radical defense budget cutter.

Not so, say defense officials familiar with his thinking.

Mr. Marshall believes firmly in strong military forces but that forces must be prepared to confront the military challenges coming down the road.

The question being asked by the national security community today is what will Mr. Marshall recommend to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld when he completes his part of the long-range strategic review. The Marshall review is couched in secrecy although Mr. Marshall has been seen entering the third-floor office of Mr. Rumsfeld on numerous occasions in recent weeks.

Defense officials tell us one recommendation Mr. Marshall is known to favor is devoting 1 percent of all the armed services defense budgets to advanced warfighting experiments.

Mr. Marshall, we are told, believes the Pentagon's relatively new Joint War Fighting Center in southern Virginia is too tame and not innovative enough.

The kind of military experimentation Mr. Marshall would like to see is something similar to the secret U.S. Naval War College experiments in the 1920s. The experiments, conducted on the floor of a large room at the college, showed that scores of warplanes could be launched from aircraft carriers. The warfighting method at the time was thought by the British to have been impossible, since London believed carrier use was limited to launching reconnaissance planes.

The warfare method would prove to be a major innovation during World War II and it was also found that the Japanese had perfected the technique as well.

Mr. Marshall believes the military today has become too much like IBM and Xerox in the corporate world too slow with product development and lacking the innovation needed to keep pace with technology change.

Mr. Marshall wants the military to begin looking at similar futurist warfare techniques in secret now and he believes at a minimum that China and Russia are both exploring such techniques in utmost secret.

China holdovers
China's official delegation now in town is bragging that they had misjudged the Bush administration since there is going to be little change from the Clinton stance, we are told.

The reason, we are told, is that officials still in place from the Clinton administration are having their way with the new administration. For example, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld did not raise China's destabilizing military buildup opposite Taiwan in his 45-minute meeting with Chinese Vice Prime Minister Qian Qichen. Likewise, Secretary of State Colin Powell also did not confront the Chinese on the missile buildup.

The reason is that both officials were influenced by holdovers: Darryl Johnson, the State Department China desk officer, made sure Mr. Powell's talking points were not confrontational with the Chinese. Mr. Rumsfeld's points were prepared by Fred Smith, the deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia who is a Clinton appointee, and Col. John Corbett, who is viewed as a major proponent of taking a soft political line toward China.

"The Chinese now believe their fears of the Bush administration are unfounded," said one official. "The Chinese now believe there will be little change from the Clinton China policy."

Foot and mouth
The Army is facing lower combat readiness ratings for its two divisions in Germany should a scare over foot-and-mouth disease continue to keep training at a minimum. Last week, Army European headquarters in Heidelberg ruled out virtually all field training for fear boots or equipment would spread the highly contagious virus.

Soldiers are prohibited from drilling outside their installations in fields and forest, unless the training area is bordered by the base. One exception are units preparing for peacekeeping duty in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

"There has been discussion that if the situation is prolonged, it will affect our readiness ratings," said an Army source in Germany, where 65,000 soldiers stand guard.

German livestock herds have so far avoided infections cropping up in Britain, France, Ireland and the Netherlands. But if Germany is hit, the U.S. Army could be held hostage until local health officials give the all-clear.

"Many epidemiologists expect that no matter what precautions are taken, eventually there will be contamination throughout Europe," the Army source said. "The borders are just too porous to prevent all types of commerce. If that happens, expect a lockdown of Germany."

The Army sent out a clarifying message this week to make sure soldiers know just how confined they are.

"Assigned troops may not travel to areas not adjacent to their . . . posts to conduct training no matter how close those areas may be," the message said.

At the Pentagon, Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a spokesman, said, "the overarching goal remains one of caution here to do whatever we can to not spread foot-and-mouth [disease] to other parts of Europe."

He said troops can do some training without going out in the field. "But over the long term, that would have an impact on the training readiness and the combat readiness of forces there," he said.

Intercepts

  • Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's main clearinghouse on personnel appointments is Martin Hoffman, who served as Army secretary during Mr. Rumsfeld's first tour as defense chief. Insiders say it is Mr. Hoffman advising Mr. Rumsfeld to put proven corporate leaders in charge of the Air Force, Army and Navy.

  • The House Budget Committee has left a "cushion" in its fiscal 2002 spending plan for President Bush to request more for the Pentagon once results come in from his ordered "top to bottom" review. For now, the 2002 top number is $310 billion starting Oct. 1.

    The committee report does not set aside a specific number. But it leaves a fence around money not earmarked for tax cuts, spending, emergencies and other obligations.

    The Senate Budget Committee is sending its bill to the floor April 2 with Mr. Bush's defense number and will see if pro-defense senators have the muscle to add more dollars. One aide said some Senate Armed Services Committee members want to add $15.5 billion.

  • Elaine Donnelly, head of the Center for Military Readiness, devotes much of her latest newsletter to criticizing the Army on universal black berets and "An Army of One" advertising campaign.

    Writes Mrs. Donnelly, "Each advertisement ends with, 'I am an Army of one. And you can see my strength.' Whether intended or not, the message conveyed seems egotistical, with vaguely New Age undertones. Visual images and text bring to mind solitary action heroes like those found in comic books."

  • We asked some warriors in the special-operations community a simple question: Why not end the country's angst over terrorist Osama bin Laden by snatching him out of Afghanistan?

    Their reply was that the mission is virtually undoable. First, they said, bin Laden rarely "emits" any voice or electronic signal the United States could use to find him. And, the risk of bin Laden followers taking American hostages outweighs the chances the operation would succeed.

  • Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee that pilots have entered the southern "no-fly" zone in Iraq 153,000 times since 1992. Not one pilot lost, including during last month's bombing campaign against surveillance radars near Baghdad.

    In just the past 12 months, allied pilots have entered the zone 10,000 times. On 500 occasions, the Iraqis fixed radar on the jets or engaged them with anti-aircraft weapons.

    Said committee Chairman John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, "If we ever experience the misfortune of a downed aviator, and he's marching being dragged through the streets of Baghdad, stand by. I think a lot of the public haven't focused on this."

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at gertz@twtmail.com.Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at scarbo@twtmail.com.


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