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July 18, 2003
Notes from the Pentagon

Hiding Kim
A military source tells us that Kim Jong-il, the brutal strongman of North Korea, spent time in hiding during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The source said Mr. Kim suspects he is next in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. He moved from bunker to bunker for 40 days until apparently deciding he wasn't next at least not now. North Korea is one of President Bush's two remaining axis-of-evil states Iraq is off the list; Iran remains on it.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Pacific Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff planning arm continue routine updates of the war plan for North Korea. Mr. Kim's state propaganda machine has made a series of threatening statements in recent months. It claims North Korea has nuclear weapons now and will make more.

Our source says the North Koreans are also vowing to test the weapons and sell them to other rogue nations. Iran, which is aggressively seeking nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles to deliver them, depends on North Korea's know-how.

The U.S. war plan calls for taking out, piece by piece, North Korea's vast artillery arsenal along the South Korean border's demilitarized zone. The North's war plan calls for an unprecedented artillery barrage into Seoul as hundreds of thousands of ground forces invade the South.

The U.S. can immediately put two fighter air wings in operation from Japan and South Korea, quickly reinforced by aircraft from the carrier USS Kitty Hawk in Japan and another Air Force wing in Alaska. PacCom already has written the air tasking orders (ATOs) and frequently updates the bombing missions.

Later this year, the B-2 Stealth bomber fleet will start getting more firepower. The highly effective bombers now carry 16 2,000-pound bombs. They are to be reconfigured for an arsenal of 80 500-pound bombs, meaning they can hit five times as many targets on one sortie.

China missile tests
China has conducted two recent flight tests of its new short-range missile known as the CSS-7, according to U.S. officials.

The latter test took place over the past weekend, and the first one earlier this month both in a remote area of northern China's Gobi Desert not far from Mongolia, we are told.

The CSS-7 is one of two Chinese short-range missiles being deployed in large numbers within striking distance of Taiwan, in a buildup that the Pentagon has called destabilizing.

The Pentagon's annual report on communist Chinese military power, due to be made public in the next few weeks, notes that China now has about 450 CSS-7 and CSS-6 missiles near Taiwan. The figure represents an increase of 100 missiles since last year's report.

A few good golfers
A military officer tells us the Marine Corps is practicing discrimination at its fine, 18-hole golf course at the sprawling Quantico training base south of Washington.

This avid golfer says that when you call for a tee time at Andrews Air Force Base and at Fort Belvoir, starters reserve a slot without regard to the player's branch of service.

But at Quantico's Medal of Honor Golf Course, Marines or civilian base workers can reserve times for weekends and holidays one day earlier than can others. By the time other services' members can make reservations, choice times are largely taken.

"Perhaps the Marine Corps should think about jointness and camaraderie in arms as they discriminate against their fellow warriors," the offended officer says. "Unfortunately, I was told this is the policy of the base commander. Aren't we all on the same team?"

We asked the Marine Corps public-affairs office in Quantico about the officer's complaint. It issued this statement:

"Marine Corps Base Quantico's Marine Corps Community Services is responsible for providing the plans, policy and resources to promote healthy lifestyles through fitness, sports and leisure programs to all Marines, their families and any other active-duty service members assigned to this base, as well as those Marines and family members serving in the National Capital Region. For this reason, we must assign a priority for patrons to use our services, in order to ensure these members have adequate access to their facilities.

"Tee times on the weekdays may be made up to four days in advance to any eligible patron. On weekends and holidays, first priority goes to those active-duty service members and their families assigned to Quantico or Marines and their families assigned to the National Capital Region. Our next priority goes to all eligible members not assigned to this installation or region."

Blue BDUs?
The Air Force is planning to introduce a new utility or "battle dress" uniform, and the prospect is raising all kinds of comments among hardened combat veterans.

Several photographs of the top-secret uniform have been circulated clandestinely by e-mail. One shows airmen clad in blue camouflage fatigues in a photograph the Air Force will only say is "inaccurate."

One retired Marine Corps vet joked that the blue fatigues "will work great in blue forests," and "will blend in well with motif of most Air Force officer clubs."

Also, the veteran had this to say about the blue-patterned camouflage: "So that's what color the ground looks like while conducting combat operations from 35,000 feet."

Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jean Schaefer told us the Air Force is planning to showcase a new uniform soon.

"We expect within a month to roll out a plan for a new utility uniform," Col. Schaefer said, adding that she did not know whether the uniform will be blue.

Stalag Iraq
U.S. forces in Iraq are detaining so many guerrilla fighters and criminals that they are running out of jail space in Baghdad.

Our sources say the military has been forced to reopen decrepit jails and other poorly maintained buildings to house hundreds of Saddam Hussein loyalists.

The crunch is creating problems: Many will not be interrogated for days or weeks; it is difficult to segregate the different types of fighters, so Ba'athist officials are in the same cells as street-thug Fedayeen, and some buildings are not secure. Some Iraqis have pried off window bars and escaped.

Just since July 12, the coalition has arrested 206 Iraqis for various crimes, including murder, carjacking, assaults, burglaries and lootings. Saddam released tens of thousands of prisoners before the war, some of them hardened criminals.

Call-ups
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sent out an order earlier this month for his four branches to reorganize the Guard and Reserve so war planners are not so reliant on them in a crisis.

The order includes four ideas for "innovative management," with one being for the services to identify predictable overseas missions and use the Guard and Reserve, rather than active-duty forces, to do them.

Mr. Rumsfeld wants Joint Forces Command, where new ideas are tested, to come up with a better process for executing a mobilization.

The secretary also wants the services to create new affiliation programs for persons with special skills, military retirees and civilian volunteers.

  • 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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