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October 25, 2002
Notes from the Pentagon

Base security plans
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has ordered all military bases in the United States to draw up emergency plans for responding to large-scale attacks by mid-December, sources say.

The plans are needed on an urgent basis because of concerns that U.S. bases could be attacked in retaliation for any U.S. military action against Iraq, defense officials said.

The military services in the past did not have to spend much time worrying about attacks on U.S. bases as previous threats focused on foreign posts. All that changed with the September 11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax-filled letters from as-yet-unidentified sources a month later.

Now the services are scrambling to put together emergency plans for dealing with what Pentagon officials call "CBRNE" attacks strikes from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-explosive weapons.

Some of the plans will call for coordinating base emergency plans with local police and fire departments, and possibly providing chemical and biological weapons suits to all base personnel, both members and their families.

Overseas, U.S. military bases also are bolstering security and conducting drills to see how personnel respond to a large-scale terrorist attack. The exercise results, we are told, showed mixed success in responding to attacks.

Purple Heart sought
Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, has asked the Navy to issue Purple Heart medals to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jack Daly, an intelligence officer, and Canadian helicopter pilot Capt. Pat Barnes.

"I urge you to consider bestowing the Purple Heart medal upon Lt. Cmdr. Daly, as well as Capt. Barnes, for wounds received during the commission of an unprovoked hostile act on April 4th, 1997," Mr. Smith wrote in a letter to Navy Secretary Gordon England last week. "These wounds were sustained in U.S. territorial airspace over the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

"It saddens me that no one in the [Defense Department] has, as yet, gotten to the bottom of this saga, with an evident cover-up by the Clinton administration of the incident, a failure to search the vessel properly for a laser, and allegations of official tampering with a photograph of the ship for public release," he said. "But far worse has been the treatment of Daly, now a lieutenant commander, injured more than five years ago during the course of his ONI mission, as was Canadian Air Force officer Pat Barnes."

The two men were on a surveillance mission of the Russian merchant ship Kapitan Man that was "known to be tracking U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines in the Pacific Northwest," Mr. Smith said.

"The crew of the Canadian CH-124 Sea King helicopter received hostile fire from a laser weapon on the Kapitan Man," Mr. Smith said. "As a result of this unprovoked attack in U.S. waters, Cmdr. Daly's eyes were permanently burned, as was the right eye of the helicopter's pilot, Captain Barnes, which ended his flying career."

Mr. Smith said awarding the medal "is the least this nation owes these men for their sacrifices, especially in light of the physical and professional damage these men have endured."

Selective editing
When the evidentiary hearing begins for two American pilots in the Canadian "friendly fire" deaths in Afghanistan earlier this year, defense attorneys are expected to zero in on what they consider inaccuracies in the Air Force accident board's report.

For one, say military sources, the report cites the chapter from an F-16 tactics manual on air-to-air combat, not the applicable air-to-ground combat. The report also quotes from the manual's discussion of self-defense. But that part of the report quotes selectively, leaving out a block of written guidance that would tend to support the two pilots' decision.

Meanwhile, a number of active and former Air Force fighter pilots are coming to the aid of Maj. Harry Schmidt and Maj. William Umbach. They are the two Illinois Air National Guard pilots charged with involuntary manslaughter in the accidental April bombing deaths of four Canadians in Afghanistan.

The aviators are raising money for the two men's defense fund and are providing information to show the original joint U.S.-Canadian investigation was biased. The aviators are angry at the Air Force for what they consider bowing to political pressure to placate an ally, and for criminalizing what was a spot decision by two pilots who believed they were being attacked by ground fire.

Said one Air Force fighter pilot in a message, "I don't want to see a patriot take a politically driven fall."

SoCom hit
Commandos are not pleased with a report in The Washington Times last week revealing the Pentagon may strip Special Operations Command of its authority to buy weapons and equipment.

Special Operations Command has had the authority since its inception in 1987 to purchase its own weapons because special-operations forces have unusual needs and because it is difficult for 47,000 personnel to compete for budget dollars in the 1.4-million-member armed forces.

"I can't tell you enough how much this would screw us up," said one officer. "If we had to rely on the 'Big Army' for acquisition, they would put many of our priorities right after their more important projects."

SoCom adjusted
Special Operations Command has asked for a big budget increase above its yearly $5 billion to take on an expanding role in the war against the al Qaeda network.

But Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's staff may fix the problem another way. Instead of giving SoCom significantly more personnel and weapons, it may lighten its workload in other mission areas.

Planners are examining whether to end or curtail the role of special-operations forces in the war on drugs.

Mr. Rumsfeld told the New York Times earlier this month he may relieve the Green Berets of the job of training foreign militaries and give the job to other units.

Father Boyd
John Boyd has been entombed at Arlington for five years, but the father of the military-reform movement lives on today in the form of die-hard believers in the Pentagon and a new cadre of "John Boyds" in the officer corps.

Now, a new book, "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War" by Robert Coram, tells the story of Col. Boyd. The biography chronicles the life of the air-to-air flying ace who reformers credit with spearheading development of the Air Force's two front-line fighters, the F-16 and F-15.

"He was the father of the military-reform movement of the 1980s in the Pentagon and in Congress," says Winslow Wheeler, a Boyd disciple and retired government auditor who is writing his own book on the movement.

Some of Col. Boyd's colleagues still prowl the Pentagon today. Franklin "Chuck" Spinney is churning out papers for the program evaluation and analysis shop. And Thomas P. Christie, an early friend, is the Defense Department's top operational weapons tester.

Missile shots
Russian strategic nuclear forces conducted several missile test-firings a day after we first reported Oct. 11 that Moscow was planning large-scale strategic nuclear exercises.

Two submarine-launched, long-range ballistic missiles were test-fired Oct. 12 from the Sea of Okhotsk, in the Russian Far East, and from the Barents Sea in Europe.

The missiles traveled more than 4,340 miles before their dummy warheads hit impact ranges on the Kamchatka peninsula in the Far East, and Cape Kanin-Nos, in northern Russia near the Barents Sea.

On the same day, strategic missile troops also fired an SS-27 land-based missile from the Plesetsk training launch site. That missile also landed at the Kamchatka impact range.

  • 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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