- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2002

The Pentagon is likely to create a new, four-star command to oversee the armed forces role in homeland defense.
The new commander in chief, or CINC in military parlance, would consolidate the duties of various stateside commands. It would oversee air defense, such as the combat air patrols that began after the September 11 attacks, and play a role in surveillance of land and sea borders, administration officials said.
The proposal is being readied by the staff of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is said to favor the command's establishment. A new CINC, with the military's highest rank of four stars, would be a major gesture by the Pentagon to better protect America against terrorist attacks.
Vice President Richard B. Cheney, appearing on ABC's "This Week" yesterday, said having "a commander in chief on a regional basis responsible for the U.S. I think makes sense, I think it's a good idea."
He said the vulnerability exposed by the September 11 terrorist attacks, along with "the possible use of weapons of mass destruction," could lead to a situation "that clearly is going to require military involvement to deal with the consequences."
The Pentagon had considered creating a new undersecretary of defense for homeland security. But that idea is apparently dead, after some members of Congress objected to another level of bureaucracy.
The homeland security CINC would assume control of missions now conducted by other commands: U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, U.S. Southern Command in Miami and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) in Colorado. Norad operates the post-September 11 combat air patrols.
Policy-makers are still working up the full roster of duties for a homeland-defense command.
The Pentagon apparently has rejected the idea of a global CINC to take control of President Bush's declared war on terrorism. Instead, the regional CINCs will continue to run operations in their area of responsibility.
That means U.S. Central Command, led by Army Gen. Tommy Franks, will continue to direct war operations in the Afghan theater and stepped up surveillance of Somalia on the Horn of Africa. Navy Adm. Dennis Blair, who heads U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu, is overseeing increased American military involvement in the Philippines government's war to eliminate the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Mr. Bush had made homeland security a major administration goal, after 19 al Qaeda terrorists hijacked airliners on September 11 and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Mr. Bush has created a White House Office of Homeland Security and appointed former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge as director. The president announced on Friday he wants to double the amount of money spent in fiscal 2003 on home defenses to $38 billion. The increase is in addition to money requested in his next defense budget.
Creating a homeland CINC tells the nation, "I'm being serious about this at the Department of Defense and am willing to lead," one official told The Washington Times last week.
The Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), its congressionally mandated blueprint for force structure and strategy, was issued less than three weeks after the terrorist attacks. It listed defending the United States as the "highest priority of the U.S. military."
"The United States will maintain sufficient military forces to protect the U.S. domestic population, its territory and its critical defense-related infrastructure against attacks emanating from outside U.S. borders, as appropriate under U.S. law," the QDR states.
The report said the Pentagon was examining establishment of a new combatant commander, or CINC, to "provide a single military commander to focus military support." That review has resulted in the likely creation of such a command, officials said in interviews.
A homeland CINC would join the roster of nine so-called unified commands that fight the nation's wars and run operations, and those that support the war-fighters.
A Heritage Foundation task force, Defending the American Homeland, issued a 101-page report last week listing its recommendation for improving security.
The think tank recommended taking the current U.S. Joint Forces Command CINC and putting it in charge of defending U.S. territory, and not creating a new CINC.
Among other recommendations:
Erect a missile-defense system to protect against warheads carrying chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Ensure military personnel know how to properly apprehend suspected terrorists.
Set up command centers and communication networks to interact with federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Provide security for critical infrastructure such as ports, and assist local officials in responding to attacks involving weapons of mass destruction. Federal law, the Posse Comitatus Act, prevents the military from directly engaging in most law-enforcement functions.
In his ABC interview yesterday, Mr. Cheney said law enforcement officers would not be under military authority.
"Justice Department's still going to be the lead there, and the FBI, your local first responders are going to be crucial, just as they've always been," he said.

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