- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

The Pentagon is planning to use thousands of special-operations forces and send additional combat planes to the Persian Gulf region for a variety of possible attacks on terrorists, defense officials say.
The sources said there is no final battle plan for what the administration promises will be a long struggle against terrorists and countries such as Afghanistan that provide a haven to them. One senior official said he does not believe future deployments will involve huge numbers of ground troops.
"This is a special-operations war," he said.
The official said a consensus has been reached that "Operation Infinite Justice" will require extensive use of Army Rangers, Green Berets, Delta Force and their commando air assets. They would be backed by some regular infantry units. The first likely operation would be a combined air/special-operations strike on Afghanistan to eliminate terrorist Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization.
President Bush wants bin Laden "dead or alive" for purportedly masterminding the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed more than 6,000 people.
Meanwhile, the White House has made decisions on how to spend $20 billion in emergency funding for the war on terrorism. A military source says $4.6 billion will be spent on buying precision-guided munitions such as satellite-guided bombs, cruise missiles and air-to-air rockets.
The White House also will spend money to buy new types of surveillance equipment and upgrade the Navy's EA-6B aerial electronic jammer.
Army Secretary Thomas White, in the most explicit statement to date on the breadth of the emerging assault, said yesterday, "We are ready to conduct sustained land combat operations as determined by the secretary of defense and the president. We are ready to deliver it across the whole array of force structure heavy, light, air mobile, airborne, special operations. All of the combat capabilities."
Pentagon officials say the Army, which was largely kept out of the 1999 air assault on Serbia, is pushing for a major role in Mr. Bush's declared war on terrorism.
Aides to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had mounted an effort to cut the Army's 10 active divisions down to eight. But the Army appears to have won the budget battle, at least for now, to stay largely intact.
A senior Pentagon official said yesterday he has heard of no firm plans to introduce large numbers of ground troops into the region that includes the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, a predominately Muslim country that has pledged to help the U.S. catch bin Laden.
"The kind of job required does not require a lot of numbers," this official said. "I don't believe you are going to see any divisions that are deployed over there. Most of the land operations will be run by special operations."
Mr. White, appearing at a Pentagon press conference, declined to discuss any specific Army mission.
He made his remarks a day after Mr. Rumsfeld authorized the first major deployment of forces in Operation Infinite Justice.
More than 100 combat and support aircraft will move to the Gulf region in the coming days for possible air strikes against Afghanistan and other countries that harbor terrorists.
Possible additional targets are Iran and Iraq.
Mr. White said the deployment order also includes unspecified Army units. "A lot more will come," he said.
For starters, the Pentagon will likely want an increased Army presence in Kuwait to deter Saddam Hussein from trying to capitalize on the new war by invading Kuwait, as his forces did in 1990.
But defense officials say it would be too risky to mount a large land invasion of Afghanistan, a hilly, desert country the Soviets tried but failed to tame in the 1980s.
Instead, the most likely scenario is for Army special-operations units to infiltrate the country from Pakistan or from Navy carriers.
Backed by air power, the commandos would raid suspected bin Laden hide-outs.
The carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its battle group left Norfolk on Wednesday for a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea.
When it and the additional Air Force aircraft arrive in the region, the U.S. air armada will exceed 500.
The count includes jets already stationed in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, and the air assets on two carriers, the Carl Vinson and the Enterprise, already in the region.
In addition, the carrier USS Kitty Hawk yesterday left its port in Japan for an undisclosed location.
The Air Force is also prepositioning B-52 bombers on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. It can also dispatch B-2 stealth bombers on long strike missions from Whitman Air Force Base, Mo.
Mr. Rumsfeld plans to keep a tight lid on public information about troop movements.
Special-operations forces rely heavily on absolute operational security.
How and when they carry out some missions in this new war may never be reported back to the Pentagon.
"What we're doing is we are trying to get ourselves arranged in the world with our forces in places that we believe conceivably could be useful in the event the president decided to use them for one thing or another," the defense secretary said. "And I am not going to describe what forces we're moving, I'm not going to discuss the dates and times of when they leave and when they're going to arrive."
The defense secretary also said the public should be prepared for a war with no parallels.
"What we're engaged in is something that is very, very different from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf war, Kosovo, Bosnia, the kinds of things that people think of when they use the word 'war' or 'campaign' or 'conflict.' We really, almost, are going to have to fashion a new vocabulary and different constructs for thinking about what it is we're doing."

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