Inside the Ring

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Asked if SOCOM is both a leading war fighter, or supported command, as well as a command that supports other war fighters, as announced by Mr. Rumsfeld several years ago, Mr. McGraw said the command’s normal role is support to other commands. Its role as a supported command is limited in the sense that other commands provide help with its “synchronization of plans and planning for the war on terrorism.”

“Adm. Olson has not changed the role USSOCOM plays,” Mr. McGraw said. “The commander of USSOCOM will command and control specific special operations missions if and when the president or secretary of defense directs him to do so. Any such missions would normally be fully coordinated with the appropriate geographic combatant commanders, who would serve in a supporting role.”

Asked about the failure of special operations forces to capture or kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or his most senior deputies and whether SOCOM favors operating inside the tribal areas of Pakistan where they are believed hiding, Mr. McGraw said: “This is a policy question for the U.S. and Pakistani governments.” The command “is prepared to work with the Pakistanis in whatever capacity the Pakistani and U.S. governments determine is appropriate.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely said he disagreed with Adm. Olson’s view of limiting special operations forces.

“The war on terror is an unconventional war and always has been, and it should be run by the unconventional warfare guys,” Gen. Vallely said.

“The fact is we haven’t had a strong four-star commander at special operations command or senior officials at the Pentagon who understand how to fight this war. Special Operations should be the lead with conventional forces subordinated to them.”

North Korea declaration

The Bush administration has frequently made excessive secrecy by China a major point of contention. The issue of the lack of “transparency” in China is raised by the Pentagon in meetings with Chinese military, and it is also a staple of the bilateral Strategic Economic Dialogue.

Now the administration appears to be adopting Chinese-style secrecy. The unclassified North Korean nuclear declaration has been stamped “secret” by the State Department. Also, the classification followed Chinese government requests to the department that the listing of North Korean nuclear facilities and materials not be made public.

The secrecy of the declaration is likely to undermine congressional and public support for the six-party nuclear talks with North Korea, which is already shaky in part because of a glaring omission: North Korea did not address covert uranium enrichment efforts in the declaration, according to officials familiar with the document.

Some members of Congress are asking that the declaration be made public.

Evidence that North Korea had covertly procured equipment for a uranium enrichment program triggered the standoff with North Korea in 2002, when a North Korean official admitted having such a program despite a 1994 agreement freezing its nuclear activities. Since then, Pyongyang has issued repeated denials regarding the uranium issue.

The North Koreans have acknowledged U.S. concerns about the program in a side letter, which is not part of its formal declaration. The 60-page listing of North Korean nuclear facilities and programs was presented to the United States in Beijing recently and unclassified and provided to several other governments.

Air Force nuclear fallout

The dual ousters of Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley over nuclear-security concerns were meant to send a signal to Russia, Pakistan and other nuclear states.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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