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April 6, 2001

Notes from the Pentagon

Chinese missile moves
U.S. spy satellites are continuing to detect movements of Chinese ballistic missiles from a factory in central China.

According to intelligence officials, the latest trainload was spotted outside a factory during one satellite pass. Subsequent photographs revealed they had departed.

"They disappeared," said one official.

Three earlier shipments of short-range missiles, believed to be new CSS-7s, were traced from the factory in Yuanan, in western Hubei province, to bases at Yongan and Xianyou two bases within firing range of Taiwan. The missiles are part of a force of 300 short-range missiles opposite Taiwan that U.S. military and intelligence officials say is being built up at a rate of 50 missiles a year.

The missile buildup is a key target of frequent U.S. aerial surveillance flights like the EP-3E aircraft and its 24 crew members now being held captive by the Chinese military in Hainan Island.

Aries in demand
The Navy's EP-3E reconnaissance plane does such a good job of intercepting communications that the nation's highest military officers are clamoring for more.

The regional commanders in chief have been pressing the Navy to boost the fleet from 11 to 16.

"It has been their most valuable 'intel' collection asset for some time," one insider tells us.

Unlike satellites that may be out of position, an EP-3E can be offshore in a matter of hours to listen in on enemy communications.

The response from the Navy, which is struggling to maintain a 300-ship fleet, has been "we don't have the cash."

A compromise was worked out. Instead of five more, Congress plans to add money to buy three more EP-3Es. The plane is essentially the airframe of the Navy's P-3 submarine hunter, stuffed with sophisticated antennas, receivers and encryption devices.

The 24-member crew is trained in electronics, linguistics and communication intercepts.

The Navy maintains two Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadrons, one at Whidbey Island, Wash., the other in Rota, Spain.

The EP-3Es that cover Asia deploy from Whidbey to a base in northern Japan, then fly to Okinawa for refueling before starting a well-traveled track along the coasts of Vietnam and China.

A Navy publication describes the plane this way: "[The EP-3E] provides fleet and theater commanders worldwide with near-term real-time tactical [signals intelligence]. With sensitive receivers and high-gain dish antennas, the EP-3E exploits a wide range of electronic emissions from deep within hostile territory."

China has demonstrated it qualifies as "hostile territory."

Iraq moves missiles
Iraq is moving some of its surface-to-air missiles. Intelligence officials said several of Iraq's Russian SA-6 missile systems were moved from areas in northeastern Iraq.

The SA-6 batteries are high-priority intelligence targets and knowing their location is a life-and-death matter for the U.S. pilots enforcing air exclusion zones over Iraq.

The SA-6 is considered a very effective anti-aircraft missile and is believed to have been the weapon that shot down a U.S. F-117 stealth fighter over Yugoslavia.

Yoda and the Jedis
If you want to research the writings of Andrew Marshall to see where his Pentagon strategy review is likely headed, a security clearance is mandatory. Mr. Marshall, director of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, rarely publishes his thinking in unclassified forms.

The key, associates say, is to read the writings of his disciples. Or, as one Marshall friend framed it in a "Star Wars" analogy, study the Jedis to learn the teachings of Yoda.

One Jedi is Andrew Krepinevich, a former Army officer who worked with Mr. Marshall in the Net Assessment Office, a bastion of futuristic brainstorming.

Mr. Krepinevich, who directs the private Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, has taken on added importance. He is working on the Pentagon's future strategy study group headed by Mr. Marshall. It is one of about 12 panels assembled by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to plot a new course for the U.S. military.

When Mr. Krepinevich writes, as he did recently, that four Trident submarines should be converted to land-attack missile platforms, it's a good guess that Mr. Marshall endorses the idea.

Marshall watchers say his ideas show up in the writings of other proteges, such as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and James Roche, a retired Navy officer who is in line to be the next Air Force secretary.

"There's this whole network of Marshallites out there and that's how his work gets out," says John Hillen, who has participated in Mr. Marshall's yearly military study program at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

Mr. Marshall's ideas showed up in what could be one of the most important defense documents in recent history: George W. Bush's 1999 speech at the Citadel in which he laid out his vision for the military 20 years from now.

The speech is growing in importance, not only because Mr. Bush became commander in chief, but also because he and Mr. Rumsfeld are carrying out the far-reaching strategic review the candidate called for in his speech.

"The game is to get to what the future war looks like first, before the other guy," says Mr. Hillen, who helped write the Bush speech. "If you guess wrong there is a heavy price to pay."

"The most influential mind driving that speech was George W. Bush," Mr. Hillen adds. "He laid out very firmly to us the direction he wanted to go. . . . His guidance to us in the speech was to send a signal to the bright and innovative young majors and colonels who are out there. The signal was 'help is on the way. I'm going to create a military where your ideas and innovations are going to be appreciated and acted on.' "

Space office
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is set to make one of his first organization changes to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The secretary will announce that he is creating a new undersecretariat headed by an undersecretary of defense for space, information and intelligence. The office, to be known as SI2, will absorb the assistant defense secretariat for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, known as C4I.

The new space office will take charge of the high-profile Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, which now is directed by the Pentagon's weapons-buying official, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition.

A leading candidate for the post is Albert E. Smith, executive vice president for Lockheed-Martin Space Systems Co. in Denver. Mr. Smith was identified by us as a top choice for undersecretary of the Air Force.

Pentagon officials said he will be "dual-hatted" and hold both jobs. Mr. Rumsfeld last year headed a special commission on space policy that recommended that the Air Force run the military's various space programs.

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

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