- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2001

Army ammo

A military operations and assessment team is circulating a "Power Point" briefing to commanders that illustrates the service's persistent shortage of all types of ammunition.

The briefing concludes that major commands such as Training and Doctrine Command and Special Operations "will be forced to train using their basic load deployment stocks, or suspend training altogether for selected ammo."

Items of limited availability for training are the 120 mm tank shell, 120 mm mortar, and 2.75-inch hydra rocket I.

The memo goes on to say that shipments of training rounds will cease this month, which "disrupts all services planned training, exercises and readiness basic load plans."

"Unable to ship approximately 35,150 short tons of critical ammunition for soldier training and go-to-war requirements from depots and plans," the briefing states. "Army and service readiness postures will deteriorate significantly."

An Army war fighter told us, "The ammunition system in the Army is still a mess. It is designed to meet the requirements of the contractors and ammunition supply points and not the needs of soldier training. Most of the time, it is simply a massive inconvenience. The process of requesting ammunition is quite tedious and time intensive. Often the ammo received is significantly different than what was requested."

The Washington Times in February quoted from an Army memo that declared a "worldwide shortage" of 9 mm ammunition. The memo called for cancellation of all 9 mm range training, except for military police and those going on overseas deployments.


CIA bias update

The CIA has mounted a domestic covert action program to soothe the bruised egos of its China analysts, who are under fire for getting it wrong in their assessment of China.

Retired Army Gen. John Tilelli issued a written statement July 10 in response to reports, first disclosed in this newspaper, that a special commission known as the China Futures Panel he headed criticized CIA analysts for poor reporting on China.

Gen. Tilelli, in a memorandum to CIA employees, stated that "contrary to the press report, our panel found that there was no politicization or bias by the analysts in their reporting." Really?

According to several government officials who have read the report, which was sent to Congress last week, a key finding is that CIA China analysts showed an "institutional predisposition" in their reporting on China. The term was even used by CIA Director George J. Tenet to describe one of the conclusions of the 12-member Tilelli commission in a cover letter to the report.

A CIA spokesman referred questions to Gen. Tilelli.

We asked Gen. Tilelli if his panel concluded there was an institutional predisposition in the China shop at CIA and if so what is the difference between that and bias.

"I can't comment on the report because it's classified," he said.

As for "politicization," the report in The Washington Times edition of July 6 never used the term. The fact that Gen. Tilelli disputed its use is a sign that CIA spinners are using a classic deception tactic: deny something that was never reported. Asked who reported the CIA was guilty of politicization, Gen. Tilelli said "other reports" besides the initial Times article used it. However, his CIA statement said the guilty party was, in his words, the singular "press report."

Pressed to explain why his statement left out the words "institutional predisposition" or any criticism of the CIA's reporting on China, Gen. Tilelli said the statement was designed to buck up the morale of the CIA's China analysts in the wake of the media reports.

As for identifying problems, Gen. Tilelli would only say the panel found "some room" for improvement.

There's more bad news for the CIA: Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has vowed privately to continue investigating the CIA's bias on China, we are told.


Reinforcements

Andre D. Hollis, senior counsel to Rep. Dan Burton's House Government Reform Committee, is leaving Capitol Hill for the Pentagon. He starts Monday as deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict. He will specialize in counternarcotics policy. Mr. Hollis will be joined by Robert Andrews, a former Green Beret, CIA analyst and Senate staffer who is slated to become principal deputy assistant secretary.

A Princeton graduate and an Army ROTC student, Mr. Hollis left the Army, earned a degree from the University of Virginia law school and was a private lawyer in the District before moving to Capitol Hill.

Their likely boss: Michelle K. Van Cleave, a former science adviser to President Reagan who is the front-runner for the top spot of assistant secretary.

While Mr. Hollis focuses on anti-drug operations, Mr. Andrews will concentrate on making sure the 50,000 personnel within the special operations community are well equipped and trained.

Congress created the Pentagon office, over objections from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as part of the landmark Goldwater Nichols Act of the mid-1980s. The idea was to give the special operations community its own advocate inside the Pentagon in much the same way as the service secretaries look after the Navy, Army and Air Force.

"It's essentially a fourth service secretary," said an ex-Army commando.

The new office rose out of the debacle of Desert One, the failed Iran hostage-rescue mission in 1980 that exposed deep shortfalls in special operations readiness.


Patrick Burns dissents

Retired Navy Lt. Patrick Burns, who blew the whistle on what he considered lax training of two female Navy pilots and saw his career crash as a result, has resurfaced in the current issue of U.S. Naval Institute's Proceedings magazine.

Lt. Burns, a former flight instructor, says in print what some naval aviators have been saying privately: the crew of the downed EP-3E blundered by landing the U.S. surveillance plane on communist China's Hainan island.

"The crew of that EP-3E had a responsibility to safeguard U.S. secrets and, from all outward appearances, they failed," said Lt. Burns, who was punished by the Navy for releasing the flight records of two female pilots. "What is particularly onerous about this incident is that this crew appears to have placed their personal safety ahead of any considerations about their duty, their mission, or national security."

All 24 EP-3E crew members received medals personally pinned on by Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Pentagon ceremony. Lt. Shane Osborn, the pilot who guided the crippled aircraft to an emergency landing, received the Distinguished Flying Cross. All other crew got the Air Medal, signifying exceptional achievement. Lt. Osborn, and the senior enlisted man on board, also received the Meritorious Service Medal for their leadership roles during 12 days in Chinese custody.

But Lt. Burns views the incident differently.

If the plane could have been ditched at sea or flown to friendly territory, then "by opting to land at a hostile military airfield the aircraft commander and mission commander displayed poor leadership and decision-making."

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