- The Washington Times - Friday, November 9, 2001

Commando audits
At a time when commandos are busy preparing for war, U.S. Special Operations Command has sent out a warning: Watch what you spend out of the Pentagon's $20 billion in emergency money to fight the war on terrorism.
"It is incumbent on all SOF [special operation forces] financial managers to ensure the funds for these resources are fully accounted for and used for the intended purposes," states an internal memo, a copy of which we obtained. "All SOF activities are advised they should prepare for high levels of scrutiny and external audits of these operations."
Some Army special forces soldiers are viewing the memo as "poor timing." They note that their units are gearing up for extremely risky operations inside Afghanistan.
"No one advocates fraud, waste or abuse just because we are at war," said one soldier. "At the same time, if a commander is getting ready to send his men off to a potential firefight, he deserves the benefit of the doubt."

North Korean missile
North Korea is developing a new cruise missile that will provide a major boost in firepower for the reclusive communist government, U.S. intelligence officials said.
The new missile's engine was tested in September at a development facility in North Korea and the marks from the rocket exhaust were detected by U.S. reconnaissance equipment.
At first, the missile was difficult to identify by intelligence analysts because its air frame was wider than most of rockets in the North Korean arsenal. The arsenal includes short-range Scuds, medium-range Nodongs and long-range Taepodongs.
One official told us the solid-fueled missile is either a new surface-to-surface missile or a surface-to-air missile. A second official said the missile appears to be a new anti-ship cruise missile. Analysts believe China may have provided assistance either know-how or parts for the new missile.

Sy Hersh
The highest levels of the Pentagon have rebutted Seymour Hersh's contention in the New Yorker that the first U.S. commando ground attack was a disaster. They specifically dispute the investigative reporter's contention that the Taliban seriously injured Delta Force soldiers in a fierce firefight.
The U.S. special operations community tells us there are other problems with the story.
For example, Mr. Hersh wrote that 16 AC-130 gunships backed the commandos in a raid in Kandahar. But there are only 21 of the aircraft in the entire Air Force inventory.
Military sources said the Pentagon would never send nearly the entire fleet to one war theater. And, the sources said, it would never use that many of the lumbering flying battleships over one target area.
Mr. Hersh also quotes a Delta Force member as saying, "Next time, we're going to lose a company."
Said an Army officer, "That unit works in troops and squadrons, not companies and battalions. It sounded like something based on an overheard conversation based on a rumor. Those guys don't talk to reporters about operations. It just doesn't happen. There aren't that many of them."

AC-130 gunships?
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Jones says the amphibious service might deploy high-powered AC-130 gunships now being used by special operations forces in Afghanistan.
Gen. Jones said he got the idea for a Marine version of the gunship, which is equipped with artillery and rapid-fire cannon, from its recent use over Taliban and al Qaeda targets.
The Marines already have C-130s that could be armed for airborne fire support for troops on the ground. Converting some existing Marine transports is a matter of finding the funds and integrating the gunships into the Marine inventory, he said.
Gen. Jones also said an AC-130 was part of a fire support package that saved his life during a battle in Vietnam. "I am probably here today because of one," Gen. Jones told a breakfast with defense reporters.
"I was a rifle company commander and we were out near a fire base near Khe Sahn, a very, very depleted rifle company, I might add, about 110 people, in May of 1968," he said. "And we were assaulted by, as they say in the old days, 'a numerically superior force,' probably a battalion strength, a fresh battalion that had just come over the Laotian border. And it took every firing battery that we could call in, which is artillery, and what we used to call the Spooky gunship on station for most of the night to be able to get to where the sun came up. It was a long night but that was my first conversion."

Short takes
The Washington Times reported this week that Gen. Tommy Franks wants a fourth carrier to participate in strikes on Afghanistan. The USS John Stennis is due to leave San Diego well ahead of its scheduled January deployment.
One naval aviator told us it's not just about firepower. Pilots and planes are wearing down.
Two Navy carriers, the Carl Vinson and the Theodore Roosevelt, are launching the bulk of tactical strikes in near 24-hour-a-day operations. The Air Force has not yet won basing rights around Afghanistan for its strike fighters.
"Pilots in one squadron on the TR flew 75 hours last month," the pilot said. "The sorties are long and take a pretty good toll on the jets. Besides, it may be worthwhile to get as many new guys their first taste of combat as possible."
The CIA, long a whipping boy of the left and blamed by some for failing to detect the September 11 attack, is gaining points with the public.
The agency, which President Bush has tasked to eliminate Osama bin Laden, reports it has received more than 20,000 e-mail messages since the attack, the vast majority of which offered support.
Langley normally receives about 600 job resumes a week. It has logged more than 21,000 the past six weeks. A few people have even mailed checks, which the CIA promptly appreciated, but returned.
"It's inspiring to the people who work here knowing the American people are behind us," said spokesman Mark Mansfield.
Said one e-mail, "Keep up the great work you all are doing! The American people know you have a difficult job, appreciate your efforts and sacrifices, and rely on your vital contributions to our nation's security. God bless you all and the work you do."
Some active and retired naval officers are questioning Gen. Richard B. Myers' attempt at humor at the expense of a subordinate.
"You don't do that as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," said one retired officer.
The wisecrack came when Gen. Myers was asked on "Meet the Press" last Sunday if the Taliban military power had been "eviscerated" as a Pentagon briefer claimed. The briefer, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, has not briefed the press since making the assertion.
"I think if you'd ask General Newbold today, he would probably choose another term," Gen. Myers said, before resorting to some time-honored military chain yanks.
"In fact, we were surprised that a Marine even knew what 'eviscerated' meant. Sorry a lot of Air Force officers don't know what it means, either, I will assure you. No, I think that was a misstatement on General Newbold's terms, and I think we do have substantial fights ahead of us."
That seemed to be the start and end of a superior making fun of Gen. Newbold. But then came yesterday's Pentagon briefing.
When Gen. Tommy Franks was asked to assess the Taliban's combat power, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld interjected. "He does not believe they've been eviscerated," he said, to press corps laughter.

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]


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide