- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

Green Beret lessons
Some Army Special Forces soldiers (the Green Berets) are saying that while their mission in Afghanistan has gone extremely well, some "lessons learned" must be addressed for future unconventional warfare.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has credited the Green Berets with helping to turn the tide of battle in November. The commandos joined with anti-Taliban forces and found military targets for bombers and fighters to strike.
But soldiers say the operations revealed flaws. There is not enough training in direct fire. They also lack vehicles to move around in harsh terrain, such as Afghanistan's mountains and deserts.
They tell of infighting at U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., among those advocating resources for Army Rangers, Delta Force anti-terrorism teams, the Green Berets, Navy Seals and other units.
We obtained one Green Beret's lessons-learned list:
Not sufficient training in firing weapons. "They are in situations where they might have to hold off a hundred guys for a day or two with their personal weapons. Can't do that if you spend your time cutting grass and teaching ROTC cadets how to use a compass [Special Operations Command] stopped developing SOF-unique [unmanned aerial vehicles] a couple of years ago as a policy decision, a shortsighted and bad decision." Such a spy system, the soldier said, would help Green Beret "A teams" of 12 troops see the enemy first and direct fire.
Green Berets need a special inventory of vehicles from which to draw depending on the terrain.
"Our guys need to be able to move," the Green Beret said. "Need pre-stocked 'tool kit' of ground transportation in every theater, and at home station for training, for the Kosovos, the Afghanistans, the whatever. Mix of Humvee platforms, Toyota 4-by-4s, whatever, with configurable armor, weapons, sensors, must be available fast. Cannot tell you how much mobility has become critical factor Also need air transport independent of multimillion-dollar helos and fixed wing."
TV cameras this week captured U.S. special operations forces riding on all-terrain vehicles as they continued their hunt for al Qaeda terrorists.
Radios are critical lifelines for Green Berets working clandestinely in what is called "denied territory."
"We are using every bit of comms gear we have. Whoever thought that two, or four [radios] per Special Forces team was good enough, well, in my opinion, well forget it. Just anger here. Need one [radio] per man. Need as many good, multi-waveband long-range radios per team as we can get. Need simpler and lighter. Need less power usage."
Language proficiency.
"Must get better at this Send the guys with high aptitude to [Defense Language Institute] or create a like capability at Fort Bragg, with year long courses designed to maintain Special Forces skills I submit that means four or five guys on each team who are near fluent in a variety of languages of value in their [area of responsibility], not 12 guys who can order coffee in one language."
Commandos tell us their units have killed more than 600 Taliban militia members and al Qaeda fighters in firefights, mostly in the areas of Kandahar in the south and Tora Bora in northeastern Afghanistan.

China ties questioned
Two members of Congress are urging Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to maintain a ban on military exchanges with communist China.
Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, questioned in a letter recent statements by Adm. Dennis Blair, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, about the utility of renewing military contacts.
"As currently constructed, we respectfully disagree that these contacts are mutually beneficial," the congressmen stated in a Dec. 12 letter. "Moreover, if renewed military exchanges with China are [done] in the hope of engaging China in the global anti-terror campaign, we are deeply concerned that China's terrorist agenda is to rein in Falun Gong and Muslim separatists in its western provinces, while it continues to supply rogue regimes and state sponsors, such as Cuba, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, the former Yugoslavia and up until September 11, Afghanistan, including critical sales such as telecommunications and fiber optics. In short, China is not a good prospect for counterterrorism cooperation."
The letter was written before a senior U.S. official revealed to us that China had continued to supply weapons to the Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists after the September 11 terror attacks, including shoulder-fired SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles.
The letter was written in response to comments made by Adm. Blair in Bangkok recently. He said that developing military ties with China will lead to "a more cooperative relationship between the two nations."
Adm. Blair stated that the recent U.S.-China summit had boosted the prospects for restarting high-level military contacts. Exchanges were cut off after the April 1 incident involving a Chinese interceptor jet and a U.S. EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft.
Adm. Blair also said the Beijing-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization made up of China, Tajikistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan could become valuable in regional security mechanism. His assessment comes while critics note that organization members must accept China's formulation that Taiwan is part of communist China.
Mr. Smith and Mr. Rohrabacher said the cutoff of military exchanges following the EP-3 incident, when 24 crew members were held captive by the Chinese military, showed "welcome realism" toward Beijing by the Bush administration. They reminded Mr. Rumsfeld that U.S.-China military exchanges are restricted by provisions of the fiscal 2000 national defense authorization act, curbs that were largely ignored by the Clinton administration.
The congressmen stated that U.S.-China military exchanges have failed to reduce tensions, have lacked mutual benefit and have provided militarily useful information to the Chinese.
"We fail to see the benefit of the [Peoples Republic of China] gaining a better understanding of the U.S. military and its vulnerabilities, since it has repeatedly threatened the U.S. with military attacks, and repeatedly threatens to attack democratic Taiwan," they said. The two added that Adm. Blair recently approved several new exchanges with China's military that should be reviewed by the defense secretary.
The congressmen said one U.S. Air Force mission to China in 1999 revealed how the Air Force trains for information warfare, long-duration flights, and incorporates war lessons into training. "How does sharing such information lessen tensions between the U.S. and China or contribute to 'confidence-building?'" they asked.
Also, a recent briefing for Chinese officers at a U.S. war-fighting experimentation center violated congressional restrictions that prohibit providing the Chinese with data that could boost their military, they said.
The lawmakers asked for a Pentagon briefing on proposals for future military exchanges. They also asked Mr. Rumsfeld to find out if Adm. Blair is "subsidizing tuition" for Chinese military officers to study U.S. defense planning at the Hawaii-based Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies through private donations to the military-sponsored center.
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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