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January 9, 2004
Notes from the Pentagon

Supply woes
We've seen an internal Army memo that says the service is still having problems resupplying soldiers in Iraq nine months after Baghdad fell.

The memo talks of a secret plan to create a "Joint Logistics Command" that would try to solve the problem of delays in getting ammunition, food, spare parts and other materiel to the troops.

Several military delegations plan to travel to Iraq early this year to make an assessment before the new command is created. Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, is due to be briefed on supply fixes in March.

Conference critique
Guests and paying customers are giving high marks to last month's Fletcher School conference, a yearly event that attracts some of the government's top national security figures, including members of the Joint Chiefs.

We obtained a copy of one defense industry representative's report. His assessment: The services fully accept Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's demand for reform and transformation.

"All military speakers from all services espoused the need for a new joint and expeditionary mindset," said the memo. "And every service endorsed the sea-basing concept and claimed a future sea-basing role for itself.

"In contrast to earlier presentations, service chiefs and combatant commanders stressed organizational, mindset and procedural changes over procurement, manpower growth, modernization or technology injections as key to increasing capabilities and combat power. Doing more with less was a consensus."

The memo adds, Gen. Peter Schoomaker "admits Army lost its way on path to relevance and readiness after the Cold War. If he asked for two more divisions, they would not be trained and ready in time to ease the current stress on the force."

Air Force Lt. Gen. Duncan McNabb, deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, said that if two B-1Bs that tried to kill Saddam Hussein April 7 during the war could have dropped bombs 30 minutes after call, the mission may have turned out differently. As it were, the flight took 60 minutes. The remarks suggest Saddam left the meeting place, possibly a restaurant, in the Mansur neighborhood of Baghdad minutes before the bombs hit.

The officer who supervised the intelligence community's 2002 report that concluded Iraq owned chemical and biological weapons made a rare public appearance this week.

Stuart Cohen, vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council, showed up Tuesday on ABC's "Nightline." His reason: to defend the CIA against charges analysts tilted a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to help President Bush make the case for invading Iraq.

Mr. Cohen, who directed the NIE on Iraq, called such charges "just nonsense."

"We have re-looked the evidence that we have used," he said. "We have parsed every word, every judgment. And I remain convinced that the work we did was well-grounded.

"We did not, in any area, hype our judgments. We made our calls based on the evidence that we had. And let me make very clear. We had 15 years' worth of evidence, compelling evidence, evidence from multiple sources. We did not hype the estimate."

Mr. Cohen said the assessment that Saddam Hussein had huge stocks of chemical and biological weapons came from human sources, satellite imagery and communication intercepts. "All of which pointed, made a compelling case," he said.

The Iraq Survey Group continues to look for those weapons, but has not found them to date.

Mr. Cohen denied that anyone in the Bush administration pressured the NIE analysts. "The reality is that there are checks and balances in the system that would not allow such things to happen," he told Ted Koppel. "These were judgments that we had rendered over a 15-year period. ... There was no sudden halt, no sudden change in our judgments."

China tensions
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has been fairly silent on the subject of communist China.

During his first visit to Japan and South Korea in November, the secretary was asked about China and declined to talk about the emerging regional power. He is said to still be wary of China after the April 1, 2001, incident when the crew of a U.S. EP-3 surveillance aircraft was imprisoned after making an emergency landing on Hainan island.

Asked why Mr. Rumsfeld has not accepted invitations from Chinese leaders to visit China, one official remarked: "It took three years to get him to Japan," a reference to the secretary's single visit to Northeast Asia.

Mr. Rumsfeld was asked recently about China's launch of a manned spacecraft and whether it will lead to a military space race. The secretary said after a speech Dec. 10 that the launch was "notable" but that it is not likely to lead to the militarization of space.

"I think that the way to think about the People's Republic of China is it's not written how it's going to enter the world," Mr. Rumsfeld continued. "It is big to be sure. It is a significant regional power. It is a country that has some tension going on. Its successful economic reform is dependent upon its peaceful interaction with its neighbors and indeed with the rest of the world."

However, Mr. Rumsfeld then noted that economic success in the new century "requires that people be relatively free to know what's going on elsewhere in the world."

"It requires that a country be relatively open to involvement by other countries," he said. "And that tends to be somewhat in conflict, not just somewhat, but quite a bit in conflict with a communist system politically, a dictatorial system, a nondemocratic political system. So there's a tension there."

Mr. Rumsfeld predicted that China's communist rulers "will be grappling with that tension and they're going to have to make a choice every day, every year, every decade, as to the extent they're willing to, in exchange for gaining the economic benefits that will accrue to their people by engaging the world economically, the extent to which they're willing to give up their control over the political system."

The hope of the United States and others in the region is that China will join the international community "in a peaceful, rational way without any grinding of gears."

Schmidt's battles
Air National Guard Maj. Harry M. Schmidt, the only pilot in the war on terrorism to face "friendly fire" criminal charges, is due to trial in March.

But his attorney, Charles Gittins, yesterday asked the United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals to delay the court-martial. He accused Air Force prosecutors of deliberately hampering defense preparations by refusing to grant him a security clearance.

Mr. Gittins is a former active-duty Marine officer who had a top-secret clearance while at the Pentagon.

His brief states that under current procedures Maj. Schmidt must first clear classified information with the government before telling it to Mr. Gittins.

"To date, Maj. Schmidt simply has refused to disclose such information to his counsel in order to prevent its disclosure to prosecutors, thus impairing counsel's ability to provide him with effective assistance of counsel," Mr. Gittins wrote.

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at

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