New Plans Foresee Fighting Terrorism Beyond War Zones
Pentagon to Rely on Special Operations
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 23, 2006; Page A01
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has approved the military's most ambitious plan yet to fight terrorism around the world and retaliate more rapidly and decisively in the case of another major terrorist attack on the United States, according to defense officials.
Stop. Notice that phrasing: "retaliate . . . in case of another terrorist attack." Later in the story, this is contradicted. The plans include a lot more than that.
The long-awaited campaign plan for the global war on terrorism, as well as two subordinate plans also approved within the past month by Rumsfeld, are considered the Pentagon's highest priority, according to officials familiar with the three documents who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about them publicly.
Details of the plans are secret, but in general they envision a significantly expanded role for the military -- and, in particular, a growing force of elite Special Operations troops -- in continuous operations to combat terrorism outside of war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Developed over about three years by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, the plans reflect a beefing up of the Pentagon's involvement in domains traditionally handled by the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department.
So Rummy wants to flush the State Department.
For example, SOCOM has dispatched small teams of Army Green Berets and other Special Operations troops to U.S. embassies in about 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America, where they do operational planning and intelligence gathering to enhance the ability to conduct military operations where the United States is not at war.
Now . . . . wait, wait, wait. Did you catch the contradiction? First, we are told that the plans "envision" further involvment by Special Forces in traditionally diplomatic arenas, THEN are told that Special Forces HAVE BEEN DISPATCHED to embassies for "intelligence gathering."
What the hell is going on here?
And in a subtle but important shift contained in a classified order last year, the Pentagon gained the leeway to inform -- rather than gain the approval of -- the U.S. ambassador before conducting military operations in a foreign country, according to several administration officials. "We do not need ambassador-level approval," said one defense official familiar with the order.
Next contradiction: "Last year, the Pentagon GAINED the leeway . . . " These are not plans for the future. This is what is happening now.
-- great big snip --
Special Operations Command, led by Gen. Doug Brown, has been building up its headquarters and writing the plans since 2003, when Rumsfeld first designated it as the lead command for the war on terrorism. Its budget has grown 60 percent since 2003 to $8 billion in fiscal 2007. President Bush empowered the *53,000-strong command with coordinating the entire military's efforts in counterterrorism in 2004.
(1) Did Rumsfeld approve this, or did Bush? The article says both.
(2) At this point, we can probably agree that "counterterrorism" is a euphamism for ALL military strategey. Which is starting to include all diplomatic strategy.
"SOCOM is, in fact, in charge of the global war on terror," Brown said in testimony before the House last month. In this role, SOCOM directs and coordinates actions by the military's regional combatant commands. SOCOM, if directed, can also command its own counterterrorist operations -- such as when a threat spans regional boundaries or the mission is highly sensitive -- but it has not done so yet, according to Olson, and other officials say that is likely to be the exception to the rule.
To extend its reach to more countries, SOCOM is increasing by 13,000 the number of Special Operations troops, including Special Forces soldiers skilled in language and working with indigenous militaries, and Delta Force operatives and Navy SEAL teams that form clandestine "special mission units" engaged in reconnaissance, intelligence gathering and man-hunting. Already, SOCOM is seeing its biggest deployments in history, with 7,000 troops overseas today, but the majority have been concentrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 85 percent last year in the Middle East, Central Asia or the Horn of Africa.
Is it just me, or does 7,000 + 13,000 strike you as a HELL OF A LOT of "man-hunting"? Apparently, much of this is targeted at other areas of the world.
-- Snipping --
We're told that The State Department and SOCOM are in a state of tension about lines of authority. I can only imagine.
State Department officials, meanwhile, said that although, for the most part, cooperation with the military teams has been good, they remain concerned over continued "gray areas" regarding their status. "Special Ops wants the flexibility and speed to go in there. . . . but there's understandably questions of how you do that and how you have clear lines of authority," one U.S. official said. There remains "continuing discussion, to put it politely, in terms of how this is going to work," the official said. SOCOM says the teams work for the regional commanders.
Again, this story is full of ambiguity . . . . but the main thrust seems to be Rumsfeld taking over control of "diplomatic authority" and replacing it with military force, all over the world.