- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2002

Retired Gen. Wayne A. Downing, who resigned this week as President Bush's top anti-terrorism adviser, was frustrated with an inability to initiate policies quickly from his National Security Council post.
Administration sources said the hard-charging Gen. Downing proposed that the Defense Department create special hostage-rescue teams in the event al Qaeda terrorists begin taking Americans prisoner. But, said two senior officials, the Pentagon balked at it and other proposals.
One official yesterday said Gen. Downing, 62, believed that if his office settled on a policy change, the Pentagon should carry it out. The Pentagon believed such orders must come directly from the president.
The officials summed up Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's staff as saying: "I don't answer to the NSC. I answer to the president of the United States."
The Pentagon relies on special forces, such as the Army's Delta Force and the Navy's SEAL Team Six, to carry out hostage rescues.
The White House on Thursday announced Gen. Downing's resignation, after eight months on the job, saying he had succeeded in setting up the new counterterror office.
Sean McCormack, spokesman for the National Security Council, challenged those who told The Washington Times that Gen. Downing was frustrated in his job.
"He's accomplished what he set out to do," Mr. McCormack said yesterday. "Remember, he has served his country once already and he answered the call to duty again when called in an hour of need and he's done a terrific job in helping us fight this war on terrorism."
A month after the September 11 attacks, White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice announced his appointment to the new post of national director and deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.
A statement promised wide authority. It said: "The national director will be the president's principal adviser on matters related to combating global terrorism, including all efforts designed to detect, disrupt, and destroy global terrorist organizations and those who support them."
Officials said they could see Gen. Downing's frustrations grow into an impossible situation for a man of action. A West Point graduate, he is a highly decorated Vietnam combatant and career Army Ranger who played a major role in the invasion of Panama and commanded secret warriors in the Persian Gulf war. His devotion to commandos was rewarded with appointment as four-star commander of U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla.
At the White House, he, along with civilian hard-liners in the Pentagon, are the principal advocates of military action to topple Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. While that view is shared widely in the administration, Gen. Downing still viewed many in the administration as too risk-adverse, according to officials familiar with his views.
"Downing was frustrated," said one official. "Essentially, the NSC is not a place you could make things happen."
The officials said some Pentagon officials bristled at members of Gen. Downing's staff directly communicating with the regional combatant commands, such as U.S. Central Command, instead of going through the Pentagon.
On Iraq, Gen. Downing has advocated a campaign against Iraq that revolves around special operations troops, indigenous fighters and massive air power. He discouraged talk of a full-blown land invasion.

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