- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

New war-fighting methods used on the Taliban in Afghanistan would not apply to Iraq, which could prove to be a more formidable foe in any military action to oust Saddam Hussein, the commandant of the Marine Corps said yesterday.
"When we draw lessons learned we should be careful that we don't draw the wrong lessons," Marine Corps Gen. James L. Jones said in an interview.
"Afghanistan was Afghan-istan. Iraq is Iraq, and it would be foolish, for example, if you ever committed to going into Iraq to think that the [special-operations forces] principles that were successful in Afghanistan would necessarily be successful in Iraq," said Gen. Jones, a member of the six-member Joint Chiefs of Staff. "In my opinion, it would not."
The United States turned the tide of battle against the Taliban by inserting Army Green Berets, who quickly organized guerrilla units and identified ground targets for U.S. fighters and bombers. In Iraq, the United States would face a much tougher foe in Saddam Hussein's army of a half-million men.
"The defense of a homeland is hard stuff because they're not going to go anywhere," the commandant said.
Gen. Jones, who President Bush has nominated to be the next commander in chief of the U.S. European Command and NATO supreme allied commander, made the comments in explaining Marine tactics in Afghanistan.
The commander in charge of the Marines who fought in Afghanistan, Brig Gen. James Maddis, adopted unconventional military thinking by not sending artillery with forces who put the first major American footprint on Afghan soil in December.
Gen. Maddis decided against deploying artillery because he had warplanes ready and good battlefield intelligence, Gen. Jones said. The rough, barren terrain made it easier to spot targets from the air but also made towed artillery difficult to use.
Gen. Jones said the Joint Chiefs of Staff have had "wide-ranging" discussions on Iraq for years. He did not disclose the contents of current discussions.
The four-star general also said the Marine Corps is transforming into a "21st-century" force that is becoming more agile and can be deployed rapidly around the world.
He said:
Since the start of military operations against Islamic terrorists "we have certainly damaged the system" of terrorist attack, but the war is not over.
"Nobody would be prepared to declare all-out victory, and I'm not sure how you measure that anyway, except you'll know it when the attacks stop," he said. "But I don't think we're there yet."
The new tilt-rotor V-22 aircraft now in test flights is not likely to be canceled this fall, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's officials write the 2004 defense budget.
A decision to begin full production of the Osprey, which flies as both a helicopter and airplane, could come within the next year if engineering problems are solved.
"I believe that anyone who truly understands tilt-rotors understands how potentially transformational this is as a technology on the 21st-century battlefield," he said, noting that future tilt-rotor aircraft will boost both Army and Navy capabilities. He said Gen. Charles Holland, who heads U.S. Special Operations Command, supports V-22 production.
Terrorists, including al Qaeda and other Islamic radicals, are funding their operations through drug trafficking, and more needs to be done to stop "narco-terrorism."
Attacks on drug trafficking are needed to "cut off the economic head" of terrorists around the world, including those in South America, Gen. Jones said.
Marines are planning mobile offshore bases in Asia and new high-speed catamarans to solve basing problems and increase the ability of Marine forces to reach hot spots in the Pacific.
"And with everything from high-speed vessels to V-22s to Joint Strike Fighters, you've really got a powerful concept where Marines could fly from the West Coast, land on the mobile offshore base, retrofit themselves and then launch off with these," Gen. Jones said.
The Marine Corps of the Vietnam War era would be unable to conduct the kind of operations that were carried out in Afghanistan, where they set up a critical air base 600 miles inland. The Marines' capability to "maneuver" rapidly has improved dramatically since the 1970s, Gen. Jones said.
Massing large numbers of troops for amphibious assaults is unlikely today. Instead, Marines rely on high-technology precision weapons and moving forces quickly over longer distances, he said.
Gen. Jones said Gen. Maddis, the Afghan task force commander, told him he did not need artillery in Afghanistan because he had "total awareness" of the battlefield and support from planes at nearby bases and aircraft carriers.
"I saw his off-load plan and what he was taking in [to Afghanistan]," Gen. Jones said. "I thought I was fairly innovative in terms of how I use forces tactically, [and] I must admit that somewhere my traditional button clicked on and I said, ' He's not taking artillery.'"
After hearing Gen. Maddis' explanation, however, Gen. Jones said he agreed that artillery was not needed.
Some Pentagon military analysts say Afghanistan is the new paradigm for military action.
Gen. Jones said special-operations troops could have "a great mission in Iraq."
"But I'd be careful to suggest that it's axiomatically proved that it will always work in a different environment," he said. "If it works, it's good. But you better have Plan B in your hip pocket, because when you attack someone who has any kind of well-trained army on their homeland, they're going to fight differently than if they engage you, say, in Kuwait."
As for the threat from Baghdad's chemical, biological and nuclear arms, Gen. Jones said: "I don't think there's any question that Saddam Hussein does have and is working on weapons of mass destruction. And I think that should be a cause for concern, as expressed many times by Secretary Rumsfeld and our commander in chief."
Gen. Jones said as a senior military leader he did not want to discuss the policy issues related to Iraq "except to say that as a service chief, it's my responsibility to make sure that the forces that are committed to support the commander in chief of both the European Command and Central Command are properly prepared, organized, trained and equipped to do what is required."
The Marines are ready for any mission, he said.

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