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April 16, 2004
Notes from the Pentagon

Staying home
Some of the Senate's most vehement Democratic critics of President Bush's policies in Iraq have never gone there during the war. We obtained a copy of an official list of all the members of Congress who have visited Iraq since May.

We count 211 members, including 37 senators. Missing from the traveling senators are Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive party presidential nominee; Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts; Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia; Richard J. Durbin of Illinois; and Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota.

"Your five lead dogs have never gone," said a Republican staffer. "The people who have been there are quieter."

The staffer said lawmakers return from such trips, known as "co-dels" for congressional delegations, with the impression that progress is being made in rebuilding post-Saddam Hussein Iraq and introducing democratic ideals.

Four senators have traveled to Iraq twice. Only Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat and West Point graduate, has gone three times.

Additional trips have been postponed given the spike in violence in Iraq.

Pacific bases
Vice President Dick Cheney, who returns tonight from a eight-day, three-nation swing through Asia, talked on the trip about upcoming changes in the U.S. military force structure around the world.

Mr. Cheney said the planning is looking at "some adjustments" in how American forces are aligned not just in Asia and Japan, but around the world.

"U.S. forward deployments, our commitment to the security of Japan, our very strong alliance relationship now that's been so important to both nations for 50 years will in no way be diminished by these activities," Mr. Cheney said after a speech in Tokyo on Tuesday.

"It's simply a matter of modernizing and upgrading our military posture and keeping with the threats and the needs that we face out there today," he said.

Mr. Cheney, a former defense secretary, also said that U.S. forces are sensitive to local community concerns about U.S. troops in foreign countries and that "we'll do our best to minimize any negative impacts" in communities.

Bremer successor
The question of who will replace outgoing Coalition Provisional Authority leader L. Paul Bremer is being asked more and more. Vice President Dick Cheney was asked in Tokyo if Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz might replace Mr. Bremer.

The vice president said Mr. Bremer will be replaced by a new U.S. ambassador to Iraq that will be a "major posting."

"We're in the process of selecting the individual to take on that job and that responsibility, and I would expect an announcement in the near future," Mr. Cheney said.

Don't expect the choice to be Mr. Wolfowitz.

"Mr. Wolfowitz, who once worked for me and [is] a man for whom I have the highest regard, is heavily occupied at this point as the deputy secretary of defense, the No. 2 man in our defense establishment," Mr. Cheney said.

"And my guess is we probably could not persuade Secretary Rumsfeld, his boss, to part with him at this particular time."

Sources said a likely candidate to replace Mr. Bremer is John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The United States is scheduled to hand over sovereignty to Iraqis on July 1.

Made in America
The Pentagon's clothing store is stuffed with all the official uniforms worn by the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. There are also racks of T-shirts affixed with military slogans, such as the "Army of One." Check the label, and you'll find that a lot of those shirts were made in Vietnam.

"Boy, how far we've come," commented one officer.

Book shelf
Two of Fox News Channel's most ubiquitous military analysts, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas G. McInerney and retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely, are out with a new book on how to win the global war against al Qaeda and other terror groups.

In "Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror," the two Vietnam combat veterans call for ratcheting up the global conflict by taking on Iran, North Korea and Syria now.

An excerpt: "Some have said that the war on terror could last 25, 50, 100 years. We cannot wait that long. We need to defeat the web of terror now, not just deter it for some indefinite period, hoping it runs out of gas or that time will somehow heal the perceived wounds that drive those who want us destroyed. State sponsors of terrorism must destroy the monsters they have created or they themselves will be destroyed. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan must clean their own nests, while Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya either must change regimes, or, as Libya has professed to do, cease supporting terror and surrender any ambitions to develop weapons of mass destruction."

The two authors were good enough to quote from Rowan Scarborough's book "Rumsfeld's War." They note that it discloses for the first time using a secret Pentagon document that Israel's nuclear arsenal is estimated at about 80 warheads.

Gens. McInerney and Vallely then disclose that the United States, Israel and other countries are working on a "mega secret project" to deploy a weapon that "can neutralize nuclear weapons."

Krohn departs
The Army brought in Charles Krohn to help salvage the stewardship of Army Secretary Thomas White. As Mr. White's public affairs adviser, Mr. Krohn fielded press questions about the embattled secretary's lucrative career at Enron.

Mr. White survived the scrutiny, only to be fired by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. White had made the fatal mistake of siding with the Army not the defense secretary on future transformation.

Today is Mr. Krohn's last day at the Pentagon. He stayed on after Mr. White's departure last year, but never clicked with Mr. Rumsfeld's inner circle. He's leaving with one last salvo a message posted on the Internet warning the Coalition Provisional Authority it needs to do a better job of protecting reporters against this new terrorist tactic of hostage-taking.

"I think it's time to think seriously about ensuring continuity of coverage," Mr. Krohn writes. "Reporters embedded with units fighting the war take their own chances, and they are universally respected for the risks they take and the work they do. But the folks in the bureaus take huge risks without much protection. I don't get to vote on this, but I think the leadership in CPA should consider donating some space so credited media could move trailers in on the friendly side of the walls."

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


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