- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is considering creation of a global command to fight a lengthy war on terrorism, a sure sign that the Pentagon is contemplating covert combat in countries other than Afghanistan.
Administration officials say Mr. Rumsfeld has met several times with Gen. Charles R. Holland, who heads U.S. Special Operations Command, about forming a command or centering the anti-terrorism effort at the general's headquarters at McDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.
Giving Gen. Holland, or another four-star officer, command of the anti-terror war would avoid shifting responsibility from commander to commander as anti-terror operations move from region to region. The principal war-fighting commanders, known as commanders in chief, or cincs, are assigned their own turf, such as Pacific or European command.
The Bush administration is in the early stages of discussing covert intelligence operations or actions by U.S. commandos, or their foreign surrogates, around the world. These actions likely would not come until President Bush meets his first objective: ousting the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan and eliminating Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network. The locations include:
South America The administration is collecting evidence of al Qaeda operatives involved in cocaine trafficking in Paraguay and Colombia. Islamic fundamentalist cells are operating in a tri-border area of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Evidence has been found of al Qaeda members in this no man's land, a senior administration official says.
Philippines Anti-government Abu Sayyaf terrorists are linked to bin Laden. Options discussed include an all-out conventional attack, the use of special operations troops or asking a surrogate to do the job. One candidate is Australia's Special Air Service, which has seen, or will see, action in Afghanistan.
The United States believes the Philippines serves as home to scores of al Qaeda foot soldiers. Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo vigorously supports America's war on terrorism, but is cool to the idea of allowing U.S. commandos to fight Abu Sayyaf. The Philippines government does want American training and advanced equipment.
U.S. military advisers have visited the Philippines to assess the capabilities of forces fighting the rebels.
Iraq Some Pentagon officials, notably Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, are advocating going after dictator Saddam Hussein. Saddam has not been directly linked to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon, but the State Department lists Baghdad, which plotted to kill former President George Bush in 1993, as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Administration officials said several Rumsfeld aides believe the armed forces need an anti-terrorist commander for a war that may last for decades.
"This is a global war on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction," Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, told ABC this week. "So Afghanistan is only one small piece. So of course we're thinking very broadly. I would say since World War II we haven't thought this broadly about a campaign."
The Air Force general added, "I think this is going to be a long, hard-fought conflict. And it will be global in scale. And it won't be, as I mentioned earlier, it won't be just military. It's going to be all the instruments of our national power, with our friends and allies. And the fact that it could last several years or many years, or maybe our lifetimes, would not surprise me."
Some Pentagon officials are leery of a global anti-terrorism commander in chief. They fear the position would stir up turf battles among the regional cincs, who do not want to see a commander invade their turf and oversee a military operation.
A senior congressional defense staffer said if Mr. Rumsfeld wants a new war-fighting commander in chief, he will need to change the law. "I don't think Congress says no," the aide said.
"He's trying to figure out how to bridge across the cincs, but the cincdoms may not allow that," the source said. "They're protective of their turf."
Gen. Holland already is playing a large role in planning the commando war against the Taliban and al Qaeda. Afghanistan falls in a geographic area belonging to U.S. Central Command and its head, Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who is directing the overall campaign.
Gen. Holland's command oversees just a fraction of the force 46,000 special operations troops in the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. But, since Mr. Bush's war on terrorism often will call on commandos, the general's influence has grown since Sept. 11.
He is a career Air Force special operations aviator. In Vietnam, he flew the AC-130 gunship now being used extensively over Afghanistan to hit Taliban and al Qaeda troops.
Victoria Clarke, spokeswoman for Mr. Rumsfeld, said discussion of an anti-terrorism command is one option discussed as the defense secretary studies ways to reorganize the entire commander in chief system for 21st-century threats, such as terrorism.
The fact that many secret military operations lie ahead is one reason Mr. Rumsfeld has preached operational security to his personnel at the Pentagon and in the field.
Mr. Wolfowitz on Thursday sent a memo to senior officials throughout the department urging personnel to watch what they say.
Titled "Operations Security Throughout the Department of Defense," the Oct. 18 memo states, in part, "It is vital that Defense Department employees, as well as persons in other organizations that support DoD, exercise great caution in discussing information related to DoD work, regardless of their duties. Do not conduct any work-related conversations in common areas, public places, while commuting, or over unsecured electronic circuits. Much of the information we use to conduct DoD's operations must be withheld from public release because of its sensitivity. If in doubt, do not release or discuss official information except with other DoD personnel."

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