- The Washington Times - Friday, August 25, 2000

Asian missile buildup

The Pentagon moved several dozen conventional air-launched cruise missiles to the island of Guam earlier this month. The transfer marked the first time the precision-guided weapons will be based outside the continental United States.

The missile deployment to the U.S. island, located in the Pacific about 1,500 miles east of the Philippines, will likely fuel suspicions in China about possible U.S. attacks during a conflict between the mainland and Taiwan, Pentagon officials said.

The forward deployment means U.S. bombers will be able to hit any place in the Asia-Pacific region within 12 hours with the ground-hugging warhead, they said.

The deployment was opposed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for years. The chiefs expressed concerns for the security for a missile regarded as one of the Pentagon's premier weapons.

The 3,000-pound cruise missiles were used to such an extent against Serbia last year that planners worried the Air Force might run out.

The missile deployment was approved after appeals from the U.S. combatant commanders, specifically the commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Dennis Blair.

Lights out

When Lt. Gen. Fred McCorkle, the head of Marine Corps aviation, briefed reporters on the cause of the deadly V-22 Osprey crash, he adamantly refused to let television cameras record the moment. TV reporters understandably squawked, but Marines believe Gen. McCorkle was justified.

He had just finished speaking privately with the widow of the pilot, Maj. John Brow. For two hours, he explained to the grief-stricken woman why the investigation blamed her husband's excessive rate of descent as the cause of an accident that killed all 19 aboard.

Gen. McCorkle didn't want the woman's trauma exacerbated by TV networks repeatedly replaying the image of a Marine general blaming another Marine for the tragedy.

Red team leader

The Navy will finish its annual Global 2000 war game today. One secret scenario: a regional conflict between the United States and a large Asian nation with a billion people known as Red (communist China).

We were unable to learn the outcome, but if history is any measure, China always loses and the United States always wins.

The reason, we are told, is the manager of the Red forces during the war games, retired Rear Adm. Eric McVadon, a former attache in Beijing and key promoter of the China-is-not-a-threat theory.

Adm. McVadon for several years has taken part in managing the Red team that plays the game as Chinese military forces against the United States.

The former admiral is the leading advocate of China's military as a "junkyard army" too weak and backward to be a threat to the United States for at least 20 years.

Intercepts

• Two retired Navy four-stars returned to the Naval Academy this week to honor retiring Rear Adm. Tom Jurkowsky.

Adm. Jurkowsky ran the Navy's PR shop. He worked to persuade flag-rank officers to meet more frequently with reporters. But the two admirals who showed up to pay homage didn't always cooperate.

"Hell with them. We don't owe them a thing. I won't talk to them," was the way retired Adm. Charles Larson described his attitude while academy superintendent. But he said he often relented at the urging of then-Capt. Jurkowsky, who views officers as accountable "public servants."

Retired Adm. Carlisle A.H. Trost, former chief of naval operations, recalled, "He made me talk to people I didn't want to see." But Adm. Trost said he drew the line on one reporter: Mike Wallace of CBS.

• Kenneth Katzman, a terrorism expert at the Congressional Research Service, has a new take on the activities of super-terrorist Osama bin Laden. In his report, "Terrorism: Near-Eastern Groups and State Sponsors, 2000," Mr. Katzman extrapolates that since bin Laden is operating cells in Jordan and Lebanon, his next franchise may crop up among Palestinians in Israel.

Al-Qaida, bin Laden's terror organization, "might attempt future attacks in Israel with the intent of disrupting the Arab-Israeli peace process," Mr. Katzman writes. "It is possible that some Hamas guerrillas, fearing that the Hamas leadership might not vigorously oppose a Palestinian peace deal with Israel, are gravitating to bin Laden's network, although few Palestinians have been associated with bin Laden in the past."

• We hear Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has developed a gourmet's taste for Chinese noodles with liver and onions.

• The U.S. Naval Academy recently purchased two new goats as mascots after one died of old age. The goats, named Bill XXXI and Bill XXXII, flew in via a C-130 cargo plan. They will be ready for the academy's first football game on Sept. 2. Midshipmen have designed an elaborate shell game to hide the goats from theft-minded Army cadets before December's Army-Navy classic. The whole thing is top secret.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at gertz@twtmail.com. Rowan Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at scarbo@twtmail.com.

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