- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

Somalia planning
Pentagon planners are preparing for military operations in Somalia, an area that U.S. intelligence officials say is a hotbed of al Qaeda terrorist activity.
According to defense officials, attacks on al Qaeda bases in Somalia would require one or two aircraft carriers and two Marine Corps amphibious ready groups.
Air Force bombers that would take part would be based in Oman, on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula.
The U.S. Army also is eager to take part in any future action against terrorists in Somalia. Several thousand Army troops are currently based in Kuwait for exercises. Some in the Army are eager to hunt terrorists in Somalia because of the 18 U.S. Army Rangers killed in Mogadishu in 1993 during a manhunt for a Somali warlord. "The Army wants payback," one official told us.
U.S. intelligence officials said training camps are in Somalia and arms shipments for al Qaeda terrorists there have increased in the past several months.
"The possibility of terror cells being in Somalia is real," Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner told reporters in Pretoria, South Africa, on Wednesday. He hinted at future military action, saying "a number of ways are being considered to cope with the problem."

Omar's trial
We asked noted military defense attorney Charles Gittins how Mullah Mohammed Omar might be defended at a military tribunal. Mullah Omar remained on the run yesterday, presumedly near his home base of Kandahar.
Mr. Gittins, a Marine Reserve officer who defended the skipper of the submarine that crashed into the Japanese vessel Ehime Maru, told us:
"Of course, defending anyone accused of terrorism against the United States would be a difficult legal and moral challenge. Mullah Omar was the leader of his country, however illegitimate we may perceive the former ruling Taliban regime. If he is accused as a principal in the terrorist attacks, the defense of such a leader would necessarily require a focus on what, specifically, Mullah Omar actually knew about the activities and plans of [Osama] bin Laden's organization prior to their terrorist attacks and whether he personally or through his subordinates knowingly aided those activities.
"Such a defense would present a daunting task if a lawyer was willing to undertake it at all."

Rumsfeld's fitness
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is well-known for having the strength to do one-armed pushups a feat he used to perform for money. We have learned of the defense secretary's prowess in another physical exercise.
According to an associate of the defense secretary, Mr. Rumsfeld also holds an impressive personal best record for sit-ups. He once did 1,047 sit-ups at one sitting.
Mr. Rumsfeld, a former wrestler, has joined the Pentagon Athletic Club, known as POAC from when it was named the Pentagon Officers Athletic Club.

Black berets
The Defense Department has decided how to dispose of 618,000 black berets ordered from a Chinese factory, but then rejected for use by Army soldiers. The department, for now, will keep them.
The $4 million in berets will be stored at a Defense Logistics Agency warehouse in Mechanicsburg, Pa. The hope is the Pentagon agency can one day find a foreign buyer.
The agency said in a statement, "All viable disposition options were explored. These included: destruction, foreign military sales, reutilization to non-DoD customers, transfer or donation to private non-profit organizations and temporary retention. A decision was reached in October 2001 to temporarily retain the berets and to continue to seek a foreign military sales opportunity."
The Army kicked up a furor in 2000 by announcing all soldiers would wear black berets, until then the distinctive headgear of the elite Rangers. To make matters worse, the Pentagon ordered a big chunk of the order from communist China, a country that may one day invade Taiwan and face Americans in battle.
The brouhaha was settled when the Pentagon announced it would not allow any American soldier to wear a made-in-China beret, and the Army awarded the Rangers their own distinctive tan berets. Some were seen on videotape wearing them when Rangers raided two enemy sites in Afghanistan on Oct. 20.

New strategy
Michelle van Cleave, the former nominee for assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict, is now a policy adviser to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for homeland security issues. She said during a recent speech that the United States has made a fundamental shift in its policy for attacking terrorism.
"America has a new strategy," Mrs. van Cleave said during a panel discussion in Washington held by Hillsdale College.
Instead of dealing with terrorists as criminals and waiting for their attacks before responding, the new strategy calls for rooting out networks and their support structure, she said.
Mrs. van Cleave added, "Our strategic purpose must be to create conditions that make it impossible for the terrorists to succeed. That requires the full range of tools at our disposal, economic, diplomatic, informational, as well as military, aimed at disrupting the terrorist cells: their support, communications, logistics, etc., and especially safe harbor.
"The principal targets are the sinews of complex, interlocking network, and the people behind them," she said. "Our actions against those targets will need to be precise, and systematic, and often covert. Where necessary we will act alone. But we will also call on other nations for help."

Sorties
Gen. Tommy Franks, who commands the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, is telling Army colleagues he gets along well with President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. He credits both with giving him leeway to set strategy, assemble the right forces and design.missions.
In turn, the special operations community is praising Gen. Franks for giving commandos freedom to design missions as needed inside Afghanistan. Covert warriors have played their biggest role in a war since Vietnam. Green Berets are credited with helping to organize opposition groups, and finding targets and calling in air strikes. Delta Force soldiers have moved around Afghanistan killing Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.
Some in the press actually compared the Afghanistan campaign to Vietnam three weeks into the war on terrorism. But there is one legitimate comparison, Army officers tell us. In Vietnam, the south fought best when units had American soldiers fighting with them. In Afghanistan, anti-Taliban fighters became more organized and offensive-minded once Green Beret "A teams" joined and advised them.
Military terms. One of the hot words for this war is "interdiction." The Marines and special-operation forces are interdicting roads leading out of Kandahar. Strike aircraft are interdicting Taliban convoys. The Defense Department defines interdiction as "an action to divert, disrupt, delay or destroy the enemy's surface military potential before it can be used effectively against friendly forces."
The space crunch at Arlington National Cemetery is expected to ease as the result of laws passed by Congress the past two years. In all, the cemetery is picking up 50 to 60 acres, including the old Navy Annex near the Pentagon off Interstate 395. Each acre can accommodate 6,000 new grave sites, extending the cemetery's capacity to the 2050-60 time frame.
Some members of Congress next year are expected to question the need for more than 3,000 new Joint Strike Fighters. The reason: The Afghanistan campaign proved the value of long-range heavy bombers, while showing the disadvantage of land-based fighters.
The United States failed to gain the rights to launch fighter attacks from any neighboring country during the war's height. Most strikes came from long-range bombers and Navy jets.
Correction. Many of you caught our goof last week. The EP-3 surveillance aircraft is, indeed, a Navy plane.
Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at [email protected] Mr. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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