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January 21, 2005
Notes from the Pentagon

Army violation
A knowledgeable Army source says in a written statement that the Army is violating the Pentagon's ban on women in land combat.

The source's two-page statement, a copy of which was provided to us, is a direct challenge to Army Secretary Francis Harvey's assurances to Congress this week that the service has decided not to change the 1994 ban on women in direct ground combat or in units that routinely embed or collocate with such units.

The Army source says the violation is occurring within the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which will return to Iraq soon. The Fort Stewart, Ga.-based division is the first to be transformed into brigade "units of action." They are designed as smaller, self-contained brigades that train and deploy as one. The Army refers to this as "modularity."

The source says that in May, the Army revised the division's organizational chart that, on paper, assigned a battalion's Forward Support Company (FSC) to the Brigade Support Battalion (BSB). By attaching the FSC to the BSB, it will be eligible to include female soldiers.

But this, the Army source says, is merely a paper change, because for any FSC to do its job, it must collocate with direct combat units. The Pentagon prohibits such arrangements.

Said the source's statement, "The administrative change does not change the fact, however, that during any training or any deployment, the FSC works directly for, and is collocated with, the combat battalion. Any other arrangement would complicate the chain of command and degrade expected advantages in the new units of action. Nevertheless, it appears that senior leaders are getting what they wanted. Despite current regulations, females will work directly for, and be collocated with, land combat maneuver battalions."

Combat soldiers, the source further stated, "are trained to engage in direct combat on land, and the collocation of gender-mixed forward support companies would seriously distract from the mission and possibly cost lives."

An Army spokeswoman did not respond to a query on whether, in light of Mr. Harvey's assurance, the FSCs would be all-male.

The Washington Times previously reported on an internal Army document that said if the historically all-male FSCs were kept that way, there would not be enough soldiers to fill out the action support units.

The Army source said that one FSC in the 3rd Division is assigned to the 703rd Forward Support Battalion.

"But during the upcoming deployment to Iraq, it will work directly for, and will collocate with, a tank maneuver battalion. Some of the combined infantry/armor battalions have FSCs that are actually training female soldiers for deployment."

The source's identity must be protected so as not to jeopardize a promising career.

"I believe that when Army officials assure you and others that they are operating in compliance with the rules, they are mistaken," the source said.

Prayer request
We received this request for help from Capt. Lyle Shackelford, a chaplain with a transportation battalion that will be delivering voting machines to villages and cities throughout Iraq for the upcoming elections.

Election day is expected to be violent as insurgents and terrorists try to disrupt the elections with attacks on voting stations and voters.

"Our convoys are prime targets for the insurgents because they do not want the equipment to arrive at the polling stations nor do they want the local Iraqi citizens to have the chance to vote.

"Encourage your friends and family members and those within our churches to pray specifically for the electoral process," Capt. Shackelford said.

The chaplain noted that Saddam Hussein's regime did not allow people a democratic vote and that "democracy will not be realized in Iraq if intelligent and competent officials are not elected to those strategic leadership positions within the emerging government; freedom will not have an opportunity to ring throughout this country if the voting process fails."

"I will pray with my soldiers before they leave on their convoys and move outside our installation gates here at Tallil" air base, he said. "My soldiers are at the nerve center of the logistic operation to deliver the voting machines and election ballots. They will be driving to and entering the arena of the enemy. This is not a game for them. It is a historical mission that is extremely dangerous. No voting machines or ballots. No elections.

"Your prayer support and God's intervention are needed to give democracy a chance in this war-torn country," he said.

Chinese missiles
China has deployed a brigade of up to eight new road-mobile DF-31 long-range missiles.

That's the latest assessment from the authoritative International Institute for Strategic Studies publication, "The Military Balance."

China also has 24 DF-5A long-range strategic missiles and 112 intermediate-range DF-4, DF-3A and DF-21 missiles.

The assessment that eight DF-31s are operational goes beyond the Pentagon's latest report on Chinese military power made public in May. The Pentagon report stated that the DF-31 is still in development with deployment expected "later this decade."

The Pentagon stated that China also is working on two longer-range versions of the DF-31, one that is a solid-fuel ground-based mobile missile and a solid-fuel submarine-launched version.

China also is building up its strategic nuclear forces. It is expected to add 10 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) to its arsenal this year and 30 more ICBMs by 2010, the Pentagon report said.

Wolfowitz on war
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said this week that President Bush's second administration will stay focused on counterterrorism.

"Clearly, one of the important things the president wants to focus on is continuing the progress that's been made in rooting out global terrorist networks and getting governments out of the business of supporting terrorism," Mr. Wolfowitz told Indonesia's Tempo magazine.

Mr. Wolfowitz said a second key policy is pursuing the Greater Middle East Initiative announced in November. The initiative seeks to support democratic reform in the Middle East, especially the Arab world.

Mr. Wolfowitz said the president was "fairly frank and critical about our failure to do that in the past and our too willingness to accept dictatorships in Arab countries as somehow serving American interests or this was the best that Arabs can do."

"I believe strongly it doesn't serve American interests, and I think Arabs can do much better than that," he said. "And that if you want to demonstrate a better alternative to what the radicals are offering, I think the real alternative is freedom and democracy. I think the president believes that."

Mr. Bush also plans to invest political capital into resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, he said.

Asked whether the Bush administration will launch another war after Iraq, Mr. Wolfowitz said: "I don't think any of us feel that the war in Afghanistan was a mistake or that the war in Iraq was a mistake. But, I think they also ought to think about the fact that the war in Iraq was really started 15 years ago by Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait, and he never really stopped being at war with us and with Saudi Arabia and with Kuwait.

"War is a terrible thing even when it's the right thing to do as it was in Afghanistan or it was in Iraq, and none of us, none of us want wars. I certainly hope that there isn't another war in the second Bush administration."

Mr. Wolfowitz said the success in Iraq will show Iran and Syria that "there's a much better way to live as Arabs and Muslims than living under terrible dictators."

"And I think it's going to have a big effect on them, and a lot of change can happen without wars," he said.

  • 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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