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November 29, 2002
Notes from the Pentagon

War games missed
U.S. intelligence agencies missed a key part of the ongoing Chinese war games on Hainan island in the South China Sea.

For the second year in a row, Chinese military forces succeeded in hiding their war games by conducting beach-landing exercises in bad weather, so that U.S. spy satellites and aircraft were unable to monitor them.

The exercises were expected to provide the latest intelligence on the Chinese military's advances in conducting combined arms warfare.

Beijing's generals picked a heavily overcast day to conduct the key amphibious-landing exercise involving at least a brigade of Chinese marines, along with naval and air forces. The bad weather was the latest effort at "denial and deception" by the Chinese military, intelligence officials said.

The intelligence failure is compounded by a U.S. government policy that limits conducting human spying operations in China to avoid upsetting Beijing.

In a related development, U.S. intelligence officials said the Chinese conducted a warhead test of a medium-range missile on Tuesday.

"It was a re-entry vehicle test" of a medium-range missile, said one official.

Navy opening
Now that the Bush administration formally has named Navy Secretary Gordon England as the No. 2 official at the new Department of Homeland Security, the race is on to fill the soon-to-be vacant Pentagon post.

Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, has expressed an interest in becoming Navy secretary to senior Pentagon officials. Mr. Smith lost his seat in a Republican primary battle with Sen.-elect John E. Sununu.

Some Pentagon officials discount Mr. Smith's chances, noting he failed to rally around Mr. Sununu in the general election.

Three names have emerged so far:

•Dov Zakheim. Currently the Pentagon comptroller and chief financial officer, Mr. Zakheim is putting together the fiscal 2004 defense budget. The product will be the first to fully spell out President Bush's military transformation goals.

•Michael Wynne. The principal deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, Mr. Wynne is a West Point graduate and former Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics executive. He served seven years of active duty in the Air Force, leaving as a captain.

•Leo S. Mackay. The deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs is a former Navy combat pilot and 1983 Naval Academy graduate. He left active duty in 1995 and became director of market development for Lockheed Martin.

More candidates are likely before the search ends.

To screen candidates, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has recalled his top personnel adviser, Stephen Herbits, to Washington. Mr. Herbits has set up a new office in the Pentagon and has the title of special assistant to the defense secretary.

Mr. Herbits, a consultant in Miami Beach, Fla., helped Mr. Rumsfeld select his senior staff and service secretaries in the winter of 2001. Pentagon sources say Mr. Rumsfeld plans a staff shake-up at the two-year point.

He typically wants senior officials with strong corporate backgrounds for managing employees and major programs.

Iraq quiet
U.S. intelligence agencies continue to closely monitor Iraq's military forces. Recent intelligence reports indicate that all of Saddam Hussein's military forces appear to be engaged in "normal seasonal activities," an official tells us.

Iraqi troops have been spotted digging trenches at a few locations in Iraq. But other than that, "there's been no unusual military activity," the official said.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Scott Waddle, who commanded the attack submarine that accidently rammed the Japanese fisheries boat Ehime Maru, is traveling to Japan next month. He will be accompanied by his attorney, Charles Gittins. Cmdr. Waddle will lay a wreath at the high school attended by some of the victims.

The Navy reprimanded Cmdr. Waddle for what it called negligence in executing an emergency surfacing aboard the nuclear attack submarine USS Greeneville. He retired and works for a private company in North Carolina.

Soldier of Fortune magazine's December issue dissects how Navy SEALs responded to the Sept. 5 assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Written by SOF editor/publisher Robert K. Brown, the article says the Navy commandos quickly reacted by gunning down the would-be assassin. But they also fatally shot two individuals who were wrestling the gunman to the ground. The story is accompanied by vivid photographs of the incident, as well as Mr. Karzai's security detail, which includes Delta Force operators.

"A 23-year-old shopkeeper, who had some martial arts background, wrestled the hitman to the ground and another friendly jumped in to assist," Mr. Brown writes. "At that point the SEAL blazed away with most of a magazine from an MP5 submachine gun, killing all three.

"I described the incident to two experienced law enforcement types who stated that if this incident had occurred in the United States by a law enforcement department it would more than likely been classified as a 'bad shooting.'"

Missile threat silence
The Pentagon's obsession with secrecy is affecting one of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's pet issues, namely missile defense.

Defense officials tell us the Pentagon has been holding up the release of an annual report by the National Air Intelligence Center on ballistic and cruise missile threats. The report, produced by the center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has been finished since last spring. It is the definitive public document highlighting the growing threat from both ballistic and cruise missiles.

No reason was given for the holding up of the report. But one official told us it is the Pentagon's obsession with secrecy and reluctance to release information to the public.

The report in the past has been used by missile defense advocates to highlight the need for building a national missile defense system. Our source tells us the report may be held up by Pentagon bureaucrats who secretly oppose the Bush administration's missile defense plans.

Navy winner
The U.S. Naval Institute, a nonprofit society for U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard professionals, has honored one of the survivors of the September 11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

Retired Lt. Kevin P. Shaeffer, who was in the Navy command center on September 11 when a hijacked jet hit the west wall, has been inducted into the U.S. Naval Institute's Commodore Club. The exclusive club has fewer than 30 members.

"I consider it to be a great honor and a wonderful opportunity to be inducted into the Naval Institute Commodore's Club," Lt. Shaeffer said. "It will probably open up many avenues to help further my work for the Navy and national security."

The 1994 Naval Academy graduate suffered lung damage and burns to over 42 percent of his body. He overheard a nurse say his chances of survival were 50-50. But Lt. Shaeffer was bent on seeing his wife, Blanca, again, and pulled through.

He now resides in Fredericksburg, Va., while continuing his treatment and rehabilitation.

The Pentagon showed gratitude to the men and women fighting terrorism by making sure each got a traditional dinner yesterday.

The Defense Logistics Agency's Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia supplied $2.3 million in turkeys and trimmings to troops around the world.

DLA supplied: 201,847 pounds of turkey; 131,720 pounds of beef; 114,036 pounds of ham; 6,381 pounds of duck; 9,498 pounds of Cornish hens; 64,676 pounds of seafood; 16,954 cans of sweet potatoes; 67,089 pounds of vegetables; 1,344 boxes of corn-on-the-cob; 8,035 cans of cranberry sauce; 67,895 pies; 4,117 pounds of fruitcake; 24,380 cans of eggnog; 8,299 cans of nuts; and 20,217 pounds of candy.

  • 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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