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October 18, 2002
Notes from the Pentagon

Missile deployment
China's threatening missile buildup opposite Taiwan is continuing with the recent deployment of new anti-aircraft missiles, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Earlier this month, U.S. intelligence agencies photographed Chinese military deployments of new surface-to-air missile (SAM) deployments along the coast of China near Taiwan.

The missiles were identified as CSA-1s, which are the Chinese variant of the Russian-made SA-2 missile.

It is not known whether the new CSA-1s are a new version of the SAM designed to shoot down airborne warning and control aircraft, such as U.S. AWACs jets and other aircraft that emit strong radar signals.

A Pentagon report made public earlier this year stated that China is developing an anti-radar CSA-1 system and that "the intended targets for anti-radiation SAM systems would be AWACS aircraft or any airborne asset emitting radio signals."

At least one battery of new CSA-1s and possibly two were spotted. A battery includes 12 missiles and launchers with a central control station equipped with target sensors.

The new CSA-1s augment the earlier deployment of advanced air-defense missiles at offensive missile bases near Fuzhou where Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles were set up.

China has deployed more than 350 CSS-6 and CSS-7 missiles within range of Taiwan, the Pentagon says.

The new CSA-1 missiles also were deployed in addition to the six different CSA-1 missile sites deployed at several airfields stretching from Fuzhou in the north to Zhangzhou, near Xiamen, and at a military base at Liancheng.

Anaconda and artillery
Some military experts have questioned the tactic of not bringing artillery to Afghanistan for Operation Anaconda, the war's biggest land battle. But Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenback, who leads the Army's 10th Mountain Division and commands ground forces in Afghanistan, said the sharp-edged mountains of Shah-e-Kot were not the right place for 105 mm howitzers.

"We didn't consider bringing in the 105s because I knew we could accomplish the mission without them," Gen. Hagenback told the Army's Field Artillery magazine. "With the limited number of assets we brought into Afghanistan, it was clear we could capitalize on our mortars as well as on the Army, Air Force, Marine and Navy aviation assets."

The Army is still feeling the aftershock of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's decision to cancel one of its prized future weapons, the Crusader artillery system. Soldiers say they cannot always count on air power to arrive when they need it. Artillery travels with the troops to suppress enemy fire. Gen. Hagenback said the adaptable al Qaeda network developed tactics to escape the United States' touted night-vision technology.

"At night," he said, "when these groups heard a Predator or AC-130 coming, they pulled a blanket over themselves to disappear from the night-vision screen. They used low-tech to beat high-tech."

Iraq-al Qaeda link
The Czech government continues to insist that al Qaeda terrorist Mohamed Atta met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence officer months before the September 11 attacks.

The meeting between Atta, and Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir Ani, an Iraqi intelligence officer, is the only reported link between the September 11 hijackers and a foreign intelligence service.

U.S. intelligence agencies have dismissed the reported meeting in April 2001 as being unconfirmed.

A month ago, the Czech Republic's Interior Minister Stanislav Gross told reporters that he remains convinced that Atta met Mr. Ani.

Czech security authorities believe Atta visited Prague twice, in the spring of 2000 and 2001, and met once with Mr. Ani during one visit.

A Justice Department inspector general report produced in May stated that Atta came into the United States on Dec. 2, 2000; and visited Madrid from Jan. 4 to Jan. 10, 2001; and visited Zurich from July 7 to July 19, 2001.

The Justice Department report indicates that Atta did not travel abroad at the time of the April meeting with Mr. Ani in Prague.

One U.S. intelligence official, however, said Atta's use of a second passport with a false name cannot be ruled out.

Terrorist alert
A group of Islamic terrorists is said to be working its way toward the United States from South America. The movement was reported within the U.S. intelligence community earlier this month and sent to law enforcement authorities around the country.

According to an intelligence report, the group of Islamic radicals is from the tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, which is known to be a haven for extremists. The terrorist group is said to be planning to enter the United States somewhere along the porous U.S.-Mexican border.

Navy reorganization
The Navy is reorganizing its acquisition shop to meet Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's order to streamline Pentagon operations.

"We must take a stronger business focus across multiple platforms and systems to maximize the efficiency and buying power of the multi-billion enterprise that is [Navy] acquisition," writes John J. Young Jr., assistant Navy secretary for research, development and acquisition.

Among Mr. Young's changes:

  • Combine two deputy assistant secretary (DAS) offices into one the deputy assistant secretary for littoral and mine warfare.

  • Consolidate purchases of surface and submarine electronic warfare systems and combat systems into one shop the deputy assistant secretary for theater combat systems.

  • Create a new DAS for logistics. "Previously, these functions were spread among various parts of the organization and were not well positioned to be able to address the needs and challenges of today's and tomorrow's operational support concept," Mr. Young writes.

    Mr. Young is creating consolidated technology programs under various directors.

    "There are some significant changes here, especially the movement from a platform focus to an integrated system focus," he says in his memo. "There are always challenges when change occurs, but in the end it will improve how and what we deliver."

    Fifth branch
    First, the Rumsfeld-run Pentagon tried to demote the office of assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict (SOLIC). Now, Rummy's budgeteers are studying whether to strip U.S. Special Operations Command in Tamp, Fla., of authority to run its own weapons procurement budget.

    Some special operations advocates, both inside and outside the administration, say the only way to stop the onslaught is to have Congress make special operations the fifth service branch. This way, commandos would not only keep their procurement budget for specialized gadgets, weapons and aircraft, but also have a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    Commandos are playing a key role in hunting down al Qaeda terrorists in a war that may last 10 to 20 years all the more reason to invigorate U.S. Special Operations Command, not weaken it, advocates say.

    Said a senior administration official: "Harry Truman saw the value of air power and made the Air Force a separate branch in 1947. If Truman were president today, he'd do the same for special operations forces."

  • 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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