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August 15, 2003
Notes from the Pentagon

DF-15 launch
China's military test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile last weekend as part of its growing missile buildup.

The DF-15 missile was launched from a military facility near Shuangchenzi, in the remote northern Gansu province. It was tracked by U.S. intelligence to an impact area in northwestern Xinjiang province.

A Pentagon report made public last month stated that China is developing a medium-range missile that will give Beijing the capability of attacking the 25,000 U.S. troops on Okinawa.

The new medium-range missiles also could hit Taiwan from areas farther from the coast.

The medium-range missile buildup undermines an offer made to President Bush last year by Chinese President Jiang Zemen that China is willing to negotiate the withdrawal of the 450 short-range missiles now aimed at Taiwan.

China test-fired a new CSS-7 last month, also around the Shuangchenzi testing facility, which is near the Gobi Desert.

Tenet's view
CIA Director George J. Tenet left his digs at Langley last month to travel to Sun Valley, Idaho. There, he gave an off-the-record talk at the annual media conference of Allen & Co., the investment banker to the stars. The doors were closed, but we've learned a few tidbits:

•He would not be surprised if North Korea's Stalinist leader Kim Jong-il did something provocative in the next 12 months, such as testing a nuclear weapon. The CIA estimates the reclusive regime has been able to build several atomic warheads.

•He still firmly believes there are weapons of mass destruction hidden in Iraq, that they have not left the country and that the United States will find them. The U.S. searchers recently found scores of buried jet fighters in Iraq, leading officials to believe there is lots of stuff still underground.

•The CIA has access to the Iraqi technician who designed mobile labs used to produce biological weapons. The Iraqi's description of the labs matched the two trailers found by coalition forces in Iraq. The Iraqi maintains he designed the labs for one purpose — to make weapons.

•He said 65 percent of al Qaeda's leaders have been killed or captured.

• Al Qaeda leaders were stunned that U.S. forces came after them in Afghanistan after September 11.

Edwards shut down
Computer systems at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., were shut down this week as a result of the "Blaster" computer worm.

The desert base is home to the Air Force Flight Test Center, which conducts work on the B-2 and B-1B bombers, the airborne laser, the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle, the new F-22 Raptor jet fighter, the Joint Strike Fighter and other high-tech weapons.

"We stopped access to our base computer network Monday about 2 p.m. because of the Blaster worm," said Air Force Lt. Col. Kerry Humphrey, a base spokeswoman.

"We don't know how much damage was done, but we're slowly but surely getting our system back on line."

Missile defense
The White House wants an operational missile-defense system up and running by September 2004, just in time for the presidential election.

To do it, the Missile Defense Agency needs more money to fund the Ground Based Missile Defense system planned for Alaska. The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense, chaired by Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, has pumped in more cash, but the House has not. It promises to be one of the most important debates when Congress returns from its August recess.

Democratic currents
One reason Baghdad is not getting as much electrical power as before the war is because Saddam's regime is no longer in a position to steal energy from other cities.

Ba'ath Party rulers made the capital a priority for electricity, and forced other municipalities, especially in the Shi'ite south, to divert power north. Now, however, those same towns are keeping the electricity they generate for themselves.

Friedman's match
Tom Friedman, the Pulitzer-prize-winning New York Times columnist, recently engaged with the coalition's top ground commander in Iraq. Unimpressed, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez fired back during a 50-minute news conference in Baghdad.

Friedman: Tom Friedman from the New York Times. You arrested a lot of people in the last few roundups, over the past few weeks. What can you tell us? What have you learned from your interrogations?

Sanchez: I just told you sir, that they ...

Friedman: No, you didn't tell me anything.

Sanchez: I told you that they were involved in anti-coalition activities.

Friedman: Is that such a hard question? I mean ...

Sanchez: Wait a minute. You don't need to get aggressive here, sir. OK? Before, I've stated multiple times what the threat is against the coalition forces."

Fatal shot
The U.S. Army troops that hunted down Uday and Qusai Hussein in Mosul last month took no chances that top regime leaders would get away.

After the Husseins began firing guns at the troops, the Army team at the site called in Humvee-mounted TOW anti-tank missile crews and blasted away.

The three-story residence where the Hussein brothers were hiding was no match for the missile. Uday and Qusai, along with a Saddam grandson and a bodyguard, were killed by the explosions from several TOWs hitting the area where they were located in the house.

The M-220 missile is known as the Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile, or simply TOW.

It can penetrate more than 30 inches of tank armor at a range of more than 3,000 yards.

No Australia bases
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said the U.S. military currently has no plans to base forces in Australia, although joint training is likely.

Mr. Armitage told a conference in Sydney that "we have not asked the Australian government, and to my knowledge, we don't intend to ask it" for U.S. basing rights.

"Australia is a wonderful country, wonderful people. There's one problem and it's called geography," he said. "It's a long way here and everything that military forces are doing as they look to the future is involved with making them more mobile, more hostile, more agile, more lethal — all of that, and that's one of the reasons that Australia would be a great place to train if at some point of time this was deemed mutually acceptable, but there's no plan for a base here."

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

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