- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2000

Airborne rebuttal

The storied 82nd Airborne Division is officially taking exception to a special investigative officer's conclusion that division paratroopers were sent to Kosovo unprepared for peacekeeping last year.
We've obtained a copy of a memo, signed by the 82nd's chief of staff. In the memo, Col. Jay Hood tells the chain of command that the report "did not adequately reflect the training undertaken by the unit prior to deployment."
Col. Hood's memo is accompanied by documents purported to show the 3rd Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment spent hours learning the delicate task of keeping peace in the tinderbox known as Kosovo.
"Not only was the [3rd Battalion] at a high state of training in tasks associated with its mission essential task list, but leaders of that task force dedicated considerable time and resources to ensuring they had attained a satisfactory level of training in each of the predeployment tasks," the Sept. 18 memo states. "In short, quality predeployment training was planned and conducted for the troopers."
Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, ordered an investigation of soldiers' conduct after an 82nd Airborne soldier was charged with raping and killing a Kosovo girl. He was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
The subsequent report by a special investigator concluded the 3rd Battalion "was not adequately trained for peace support operation."
An officer who reviewed Col. Hood's submission tended to side with the investigator, not the 82nd Airborne.
He said the documents show that of 52 days to prepare for Kosovo, 21 were "non-training days."
"A poor emphasis on training by the brigade and division," he said.
The Kosovo investigator concluded that a relatively small number of 3rd Battalion soldiers abused and harassed ethnic Albanian Kosovars in a misguided attempt to stop violent acts against the minority Serb population.
Maj. Gary Tallman, 82nd Airborne spokesman, said the Hood memo was submitted to U.S. Army Forces Command, which is reviewing the investigative report.
"The review has not run its due course, and we are refraining from further comment until that time," Maj. Tallman said. "We have received follow-up questions from FORSCOM. We are working those right now."

Gore vs. spooks

Congress will get a classified CIA memorandum today that was subpoenaed by the House Government Reform Committee. The panel is seeking to answer, once and for all, the question of whether Vice President Al Gore rejected a 1995 intelligence report linking his Russian friend, Viktor Chernomyrdin, to pervasive corruption.
According to House investigators, Mr. Gore scribbled across the top of the CIA report a vulgarization for "bovine scatology."
The committee is continuing to look into what a recent House report calls "the bull**** incident." After the CIA at first said it couldn't find the telltale report, it was traced to the White House. A White House lawyer told House investigators the document couldn't be found either. But when asked if it existed, the lawyer clammed up, indicating to several House members that the report had been destroyed.
The Government Reform Committee pressed the CIA to conduct an investigation of what happened to the document. Its secret findings will be in the memorandum promised to the committee today. We are told that at least one analyst, and possibly two, remember seeing Mr. Gore's critique written on the report.
The report of the Speaker's Advisory Group on Russia stated that CIA officials "described the intelligence information concerning Chernomyrdin that was provided to Gore as 'more detailed and conclusive than allegations of bribery and insider dealing that have been made in the Russian media and elsewhere.' "
"Such misuse of intelligence data deepened the mistrust between the White House and the intelligence community," the report said.
The CIA memo was written Oct. 6 but withheld from the committee. The panel believes the CIA was trying to protect Mr. Gore from political embarrassment during the presidential election campaign. "We're pretty upset with the CIA," one senior aide said.

Stealing know-how

The Pentagon identified 56 nations that went after controlled U.S. weapons technology last year.
The findings are contained in the Defense Security Service's annual report covering 1999, "Technology Collection Trends in the U.S. Defense Industry." A total of 37 countries were detected in 1997 and 47 were identified in 1998.
In keeping with the Clinton administration policy of making diplomacy a higher priority than security, no countries are named. However, 45 percent of the 227 incidents of foreign technology collection last year were carried out by Asian nations, the report said.
Defense officials noted that limiting the identity of foreign technology spies to percentages was a polite way for the administration to avoid any mention of China. China has mounted a large-scale arms technology acquisition against the United States.
U.S. radar technology was a major target, including know-how for long-range radar and synthetic aperture radar the kind that helps satellites see through clouds.
Foreign spies also sought aircraft technology and goods. Those targets included "hot parts" for advanced jet engines, F-22 fighter planes, and information and goods on Chinook helicopters, F-18 Hornet fighters and C-130J transports.
Spies also sought Patriot missile technology and propellant technology associated with the Crusader missile and AIM-9 air-to-air missile.
"Technologies generating most foreign interest in 1999 include information systems, sensors and lasers, electronics, aeronautics systems, and armaments and energetic materials," the report said. As for sensors, "the nation with superior sensors has a significant advantage over an adversary," it said.

USS Cole

A Navy helicopter pilot flying relief missions to the bomb-damaged USS Cole filed this report to his colleagues back home:
"I will tell you that right now there are 250-plus sailors just a few miles away living in hell on earth. I'm sitting in a nice air conditioned state room; they're sleeping out on the decks at night. You can't even imagine the conditions they're living in, and yet they are still fighting 24 hours a day to save their ship and free the bodies of those still trapped and send them home.
"As bad as it is, they're doing an incredible job. The very fact that these people are still functioning is beyond my comprehension. Whatever you imagine as the worst, multiply it by 10 and you might get there.
"It looked so much worse than I had imagined, unbelievable really, with debris and disarray everywhere, the ship listing, the hole in her side. I wish I had the power to relay to you all what I have seen, but words just won't do it. I do want to tell you the first thing that jumped out at me [was] the Stars and Stripes flying. I can't tell you how that made me feel … even in this God-forsaken hell hole our flag was more beautiful than words can describe.
"Then I started to notice the mass of activity going on below, scores of people working nonstop in 90-plus degree weather to save this ship. They're doing it with almost no electrical power and they're sleeping (when they can sleep) outside on the decks because they can't stand the smell or the heat or the darkness inside.
"They only want to eat what we bring them because they're all scared of eating something brought by the local vendors.
"I have never been so proud of what I do, or of the men and women that I serve with as I was today."
We also obtained a message from a Navy command master chief, who had communicated with 5th Fleet folks in the Persian Gulf.
"I spoke to the 5th Fleet CMC [command master chief] this morning and asked him what it was like right now. Give me the feel, the taste and the smell. He said think of primitive camping. You'd like a shower, you may, may not get one for a day or two.
"The smell is horrible because the food is rotting. Your bed is the deck because it's a little cooler. But yet, you almost need to force these sailors on to the support ships because they don't want to leave their shipmates, both those alive and those trapped below."

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are syndicated columnists. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at [email protected] Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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