- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2002

The commander of U.S. special-operation forces says he needs billions of dollars more in spending and thousands more personnel to carry out an order to accelerate the global war on al Qaeda and other terror groups.
Bush administration officials say Air Force Gen. Charles Holland, who heads U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., has told Pentagon officials that he needs $23 billion in added spending during the next five years beginning with the budget that starts Oct. 1, 2004, nearly a doubling of his allocation.
He also has requested that the "special ops" community of 47,000 personnel be increased by 9,000. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in July ordered Gen. Holland's command to play a larger role in hunting and killing al Qaeda followers.
"Those increases are what is necessary to go into global operations," a senior official said. "General Holland has told them what he needs. It's put-up or shut-up time now."
Chet Justice, a spokesman for Special Operations Command, said the staff in Tampa still is working on projected budget needs. "All of the documents they are working on are classified," he said.
Officials said most new slots would go to support staff, such as communications specialists.
But the command also would add "operators" the Navy SEALS, Army Green Berets, Delta commandos and Air Force ground controllers. The elite Delta Force, which numbers about 600 and is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., is especially in demand because of its proven counterterrorism techniques.
The war on terrorism has put intense pressure on all these units, whose covert skills are suited for the job of hunting down and eliminating Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda operatives. They are spread thin. Units have deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, Yemen, Africa and the Philippines to fight al Qaeda or train locals in how to do it.
Special-operation commanders normally like to maintain a ratio of 3-to-1: For every unit deployed, commanders want three stateside training and resting for the next mission.
But sources say that ratio is being violated to keep the pressure on al Qaeda. Green Beret units assigned to Latin America have been reassigned and are in Afghanistan hunting down al Qaeda and hard-core Taliban fighters.
U.S. Special Operations Command took on added responsibilities in July, when Mr. Rumsfeld sent a classified order to Gen. Holland.
Mr. Rumsfeld, impatient at the rate at which al Qaeda operatives were being killed or captured, ordered Gen. Holland to come up with a whole new war campaign that laid out how special-operations forces would locate and eliminate terrorists around the world.
Called the "30 percent plan" because it will be implemented in stages, the plan essentially will make Gen. Holland the global commander for some special- operation missions against terrorists. Mr. Rumsfeld has not signed off on a strategy.
Covert warriors, while overseen by U.S. Special Operation Command, typically fall under the control of regional combatant commanders in a war. U.S. Central Command, which runs the war in Afghanistan, supervises Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force camped near Kandahar.
Mr. Rumsfeld wants Gen. Holland to look at devising missions whereby warriors could enter a country at a moment's notice, go after their targets and then quickly exit. The Washington Times first reported his order in August.
Gen. Holland has briefed the Pentagon several times on his evolving plan. He in turn was asked which resources he needed, and he responded with the request for more personnel and money.
Officials said Mr. Rumsfeld, days after al Qaeda terrorists attacked America on September 11, 2001, voiced a desire to create some kind of a global commander to oversee far-flung counterterrorist operations.
Gen. Holland gave Mr. Rumsfeld an initial briefing. The defense secretary was said not to be fully satisfied and sent the four-star general back to the drawing board.
The Pentagon is drafting its 2004-09 budget to be sent to the White House in December.
U.S. Special Operations Command now has an annual budget of $4.9 billion, 1.3 percent of the Pentagon's overall budget. The $23 billion request would add $4.6 billion annually over five years, nearly doubling annual spending on the operations.
These limited special-operations resources greatly enhance the effectiveness of conventional military forces by providing essential leveraging capabilities while ensuring that "must succeed" special operations are completed with the absolute certainty and professionalism the nation demands, Gen. Holland told Congress in March.
Asked about commandos' role in war, Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters early this month that "special operations are in limited supply. And clearly, in the global war on terrorism, they have a role that is different and more extensive than they might in a more conventional conflict. So we need to see that we have the right numbers and in the right places, working on the right problems."

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