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April 2, 2004
Notes from the Pentagon

Joint Staff reform
We obtained a memorandum from the Joint Staff that orders senior military officers to review more than two dozen recommendations for organizational reform.

The proposed changes come from two sources: a team of Joint Staff analysts, and a report by the private Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The Joint Staff is offering the generals and admirals nine proposed reforms to the current system created under the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Reform Act, which set up the current military command and staff structure. The CSIS, in a report made public last month, offered 23 changes.

The CSIS involvement has upset some military officers, one of whom noted that the group's recommendations come "in large part from the leadership who victimized us during the Clinton regime." The officer said the CSIS proposals also would move the military "away from the direction the current [secretary of defense] is trying to 'transform' the military."

The CSIS, once considered conservative, has moved leftward under its current leader, Clinton administration Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre. According to the CSIS reform report, Mr. Hamre played a significant role in the effort. The CSIS board of trustees also is headed by a Democrat, former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia.

The CSIS report concluded that the U.S. national security apparatus requires "significant reform" for the post-Cold War and post-September 11 world.

The nine Joint Staff reform recommendations were not identified in the memo but were described as aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Joint Staff in supporting the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The memo gave generals and admirals until today to provide their input.

Laser incident
One of two military officers injured by a Russian laser fired from a ship in the Pacific Northwest in 1997 won a small victory last month.

Capt. Pat Barnes, a former Canadian military helicopter pilot, had his medical benefits extended, with the help from a supporter in the Canadian Parliament. Capt. Barnes' insurance company determined his headaches and eye injuries, suffered as a result of 1997 airborne surveillance mission, are permanent.

The insurance action came after Pentagon Inspector General Joseph E. Schmitz recommended that the Navy should award the other injured officer, Lt. Cmdr. Jack Daly, a Purple Heart.

Capt. Barnes was the pilot of the military helicopter that flew over the Russian merchant ship, Kapitan Man, as it was spying on a U.S. nuclear submarine nearby in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Hours after the encounter, Capt. Barns and then-Lt. Jack Daly, who had photographed the ship from the helicopter's window, suffered eye damage caused by a laser fired by someone on the Russian ship.

Capt. Barnes said in an e-mail that the extension of his wage-replacement disability benefits came just in time, as the initial two-year benefit was about expire.

The Navy for months has not acted on Mr. Schmitz's medal recommendation for Cmdr. Daly, who retired from the Navy last year but still suffers from chronic headaches resulting from the laser incident.

Stryker switch
A replacement Stryker brigade is in training at Fort Polk, La., to relieve the first unit deployed in a war zone to use the Army's first transformational vehicle.

The 1st Stryker brigade has been in the theater since October, patrolling some of Iraq's meanest streets in the north. Of 310 Stryker vehicles, one has been lost. Insurgents fired two rocket-propelled grenades to destroy the Stryker, but not before its nine soldiers escaped unharmed.

The big question facing the Army is whether to leave the vehicles in place for the new brigade, or rotate in both fresh soldiers and vehicles.

The eight-wheeled Stryker is lighter than the well-armored Bradley Fighting Vehicle and is designed to bridge the gap between heavy brigades and lighter units, such as the 82nd Airborne Division.

It brings armored firepower to the fight, yet can get overseas faster.

Gay studies
We've chronicled the effort by Gregory Foster, a professor at the military's National Defense University, to enlighten students and faculty on the issue of homosexuals in the military.

We reported that he invited homosexual advocates to the Fort McNair school for a brown bag lunch an invitation that did not sit well with all NDU faculty. Our item prompted Elaine Donnelly, a pro-military activist, to request equal time, which Mr. Foster granted her on Wednesday.

Here is his e-mail announcing her visit:

"This brown bag session, like the previous one I hosted on February 10, is an outgrowth of my elective course, 'Critical Social Issues and National Security.' In that earlier session, my guests were two serving gay officers in the British Royal Navy, who discussed their experiences and the British military's approach to the legalization of homosexuality resulting from a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights. That discussion, as those of you in attendance can attest, was both constructive and instructive.

"By way of background, when I sent out my email invitation to the February 10 session, one of our disaffected NDU colleagues, offended at the thought that such a subject would be discussed here, even in the hallowed halls of academe, contacted The Washington Times, which reported in its February 6 'Inside the Ring' column that I was hosting such a gathering and that it had 'some NDU staff concerned.'

"That prompted Ms. Donnelly to contact me and say that she wanted to present an opposing view. I agreed, and we set next Wednesday as the day. She faithfully apprised The Washington Times of her achievement. The Times then reported, in its February 20 'Inside the Ring' column, that Ms. Donnelly had 'won a commitment' from me 'so students and faculty can hear an opposing view.'

"This is an extremely important subject for all militaries and all societies. Like other sensitive and provocative issues, its importance frequently gets drowned out by emotion and rhetoric. Accordingly, I hope you'll see fit to join me for what promises to be another excellent opportunity to reflect on, and deepen our understanding of, the issue. I hope to see you next Wednesday over lunch. Greg Foster. Professor."

Book shelf
Thomas P.M. Barnett, a nationally recognized professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., will soon share his strategic vision with the rest of the country.

Putnam later this month is releasing Mr. Barnett's new book, "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century."

"Like Alvin Toffler's groundbreaking work 'Future Shock,' Barnett's book is about the way the world is changing and the effect of those changes," says a Putnam preview. "His bold new visual depiction of the world's potential trouble spots backed up by insightful political, economic and historical analysis has, in fact, become the Pentagon's new map for strategic planning and operations. He examines and explains how future threats to national and international security will arise and presents a new national security strategy for meeting those threats economically, politically and operationally."

Mr. Barnett was in a good position to see his ideas adopted. Until June last year, he was assistant for strategic futures in the Pentagon's office of force transformation.

  • 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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