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June 28, 2002
Notes from the Pentagon

Rules change sought
Military officials on the ground in Afghanistan and other parts of southwest Asia are chafing under restrictive rules of engagement the rules by which military personnel are allowed to use force in defense and offense.

Defense officials said rules changes are being sought as the result of a defense advisory panel study of the issue. It found that field commanders are being hampered by micromanagement from U.S. Central Command and Washington. Army leaders are particularly upset by the overly restrictive rules that have hampered anti-terrorist operations.

"The commanders are saying they've got to have more latitude to take action in the field," said one defense official familiar with the issue. Some officers are particular upset with the Joint Staff, which is viewed as becoming "an imperial staff" by limiting the freedom of commanders in the field.

Mr. Rumsfeld in December challenged a Washington Times story that said the rules of engagement for soldiers were too restrictive and had slowed down the ability of troops on the ground to go after al Qaeda terrorists and their supporters. The defense secretary said "the rules of engagement we have issued are aggressive, they're appropriate and they have our forces leaning forward, not back."

Cambone watch
Stephen Cambone, the incoming director of the Pentagon's program analysis and evaluation office, is not being demoted.

Mr. Cambone was moved earlier this month from the post of principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, reporting to Douglas Feith. But his power far outstretched his title at the time because of his close ties to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Mr. Cambone has run afoul of several senior military officers in the past because of his abrasive and sometimes rude management style, we are told.

As the new director of "PA and E," as the office is known, Mr. Cambone is nominally under Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon's chief financial officer.

However, critics who think Mr. Cambone is being demoted are wrong. A memorandum was circulated in the Pentagon this week that stated clearly that even though Mr. Zakheim is Mr. Cambone's new boss in the Defense Department wiring diagram, Mr. Cambone will report directly to Mr. Rumsfeld.

Pentagon lobbying
Richard McGraw, a former business colleague of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the No. 2 official in the Pentagon public-affairs office, is changing jobs from handling reporters to wooing Congress.

Next month, Mr. McGraw will become principal deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs, working under Powell Moore. He relieves Buzz Hefti, who is moving to the private sector.

The Pentagon has done a good job of managing the war on terrorism. But its battles with Congress on program cuts and terminations have left scars on both sides. Some lawmakers bristle at Mr. Rumsfeld's demand for less intrusion by Congress in Pentagon affairs. Others say they have been blindsided by program cuts in their districts.

Army schmoozing
Army officials are trying to figure out "why does Rumsfeld hate the Army," as one Pentagon official puts it.

Of course, the former Navy pilot does not hate the Army. It's just that his civilian transformation specialists, people like Stephen Cambone, are not happy with the pace of Army restructuring for the 21st century.

One Army solution is to get closer to Mr. Cambone so he realizes why it needs the next-generation Comanche helicopter and 10 active divisions.

But some Pentagon people outside the Army say the service sometimes is its own worst enemy. Its briefs are not always crisp and to the point. "The Army needs to do a better job of selling their programs inside the building," said one official.

Intelligence czar
The Senate this week quickly went along with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's proposal to create a new undersecretary of defense, this one for intelligence. The measure was included in the Senate version of the 2003 defense-budget bill, giving the Pentagon its fifth undersecretary, along with comptroller, policy, acquisition, and readiness and personnel.

The new post is expected to also win House approval.

Senators balked, however, at creating an assistant secretary for homeland defense. That move required a downgrading of the assistant secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict.

Some senators maintain that special operations, which is playing a major role in the war on terrorism, needs an assistant secretary as an advocate inside the Pentagon.

Rumsfeld to China?
Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke called to clarify Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's position on traveling to China. Mr. Rumsfeld did not decline an invitation from Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao to visit China, as The Washington Times reported Saturday, she said. The defense secretary told reporters the day before that "I do not currently have any plans to visit China."

When will Mr. Rumsfeld go to Beijing? Nothing has been worked out for a visit, we are told.

Air Force One
Robert F. Dorr, an Air Force veteran, former diplomat and a columnist for Air Force Times newspaper, is out with a new book this one on the history of Air Force One.

President Roosevelt flew to his Casablanca summit with Winston Churchill in a boxy Dixie Clipper. President Bush traveled to the Group of Eight meeting in Canada this week in literally a "flying White House." Spaciously luxurious and studded with sophisticated communications and defense mechanisms, the Boeing 747 allows the president to conduct business just as if he's back on Pennsylvania Avenue.

One interesting anecdote: When actor Harrison Ford asked to tour Air Force One in preparation his aerial thriller, the Air Force responded, "Hell, no."

Later, President Clinton, who saw Hollywood as one of his best political allies, gave Mr. Ford a guided tour.

  • 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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