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May 16, 2003
Notes from the Pentagon

China's missile buildup
China's military is stepping up the buildup of short-range missiles opposite Taiwan.

Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Stokes stated in a recent briefing that China's military now has 450 missiles opposite Taiwan and that the number is expected to reach 600 by 2005.

Col. Stokes said the Chinese are adding 75 new missiles a year. Several years ago, the Pentagon estimated that Beijing was adding 50 new missiles a year.

Col. Stokes, one of the Pentagon's top specialists on the Chinese military, also said the Chinese missiles, primarily CSS-6 and CSS-7s, are getting more accurate. The missiles use U.S. Global Positioning System satellites for midcourse guidance correction.

Col. Stokes also said the Chinese are expected to deploy a new land attack cruise missile before 2005.

China's "growing arsenal of conventional and land attack cruise missiles pose [the] most significant [Chinese] coercive threat to Taiwan," he said. A copy of his briefing slides to the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, held in Texas, was obtained by us.

"Taiwan has limited ability to defense against [Chinese] ballistic missiles today," Col. Stokes said in an appeal to Taiwanese military officials to buy and field missile defenses. "Taiwan's senior political and military leadership must commit to defending against ballistic and land attack cruise missiles."

Taipei is under pressure from the United States to purchase U.S. Patriot PAC-3 antimissile systems, and defense officials say a purchase is expected this year.

Intelligence failures
Richard Haver, until recently the special assistant to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for intelligence, said there have been "dozens" of U.S. intelligence failures.

Such comments from a U.S. official, made during a speech to the Institute for World Politics on Tuesday, are rare. U.S. government intelligence officials are loath to talk about intelligence failures and lapses are rarely, if ever, acknowledged, or played down if they are.

Mr. Haver spoke to a group of intelligence specialists about the problem of avoiding intelligence surprise, like what happened at Pearl Harbor and on September 11. "Our job related to surprise [is] to either eliminate it, or to mitigate it; to reduce the probability of surprise and, in particular, when surprise would have strategic effect.

"Intelligence failures are rarely caused by immediate problems," Mr. Haver said. "If there are difficulties in intelligence, they probably stem back five to 10 years."

Mr. Haver said the Bush administration is "paying the price for decisions made in the middle 1990s," when intelligence funding and resources were cut sharply during the Clinton administration.

"I've been asked to go back and review dozens, literally dozens, of major intelligence failures, and when you get down to the nubbins, you always find the same problem: A lack of analytic rigor that didn't understand what were the missing pieces.

"Well, they understood what all the pieces that they actually had were, but they didn't array the puzzle correctly; they didn't understand what was missing. That's the problem. Whether it's in the readiness of the Iraqis, or the degree to which the Saddam Fedayeen were going to put up resistance, we could go on and on and I think we'll find the same root cause."

Mr. Haver, a veteran intelligence official, lost his position as a result of the administrative shake-up that created the new undersecretariat of defense for intelligence. "I am presently ambassador without portfolio" within the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. Other defense sources said he likely will leave the Pentagon in the near future.

Pay at the pump
Marine Corps headquarters has warned aviators not to take meals and lodging from private companies that provide fuel to military aircraft. The warning came after an investigation last year into aviators stopping at the Fresno, Calif., airport, who were receiving gas and repairs to F-18 Hornets and other Marine aircraft.

Competitors complained and a Defense Criminal Investigative Service probe ensued.

Its report said "pilots were offered gifts and gratuities to include meals and hotel rooms, which were accepted," says a memo from Marine Corps headquarters we obtained. "The appearance of favoritism, in that exchanging gratuities to induce aircrew to utilize [Fresno airport] services is prohibited by the DoD joint ethics regulation."

But some Marines we spoke to say the whole Fresno-Marine relationship was overblown by investigators. They said the fuel vendor made pizzas and sodas available during fueling. If the aircraft needed repair, he provided a hotel room. Marines, who pay for the gas with government credit cards, said the Fresno pump became popular with aviators, especially on the weekends, because military stations were often closed.

Nonetheless, the headquarters memo ordered squadron commanders to inform fliers that the practice should stop:

"Emphasis should be placed on ensuring air crew are familiar with use of flight package/aviation fuel card procedures prior to refueling away from parent air station and the DoD joint ethics regulation to preclude further occurrences."

Marine firsts
The Marines Corps seemed to be everywhere in Operation Iraqi Freedom. They helped the British tame Basra. They fought Fedayeen Saddam guerrillas in southern Iraqi towns. They did urban combat in Kut. They entered east Baghdad and ended up in the town square, where a Marine vehicle pulled down a huge metal statue of Saddam Hussein. For an encore, they went on to Tikrit, Saddam's last stronghold. Along the way, the Corps managed some firsts. It was the first war where the primary means of communication between the battlefield and the United States was e-mail. The Corps also saw its first black women pilots fly helicopters over the war zone. Nine in 10 munitions were precision-guided, compared with 10 percent in the 1991 Persian Gulf war.

Gingrich's e-mail
Much has been written about Richard Perle's activist role on the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, a group of outside advisers to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

But perhaps a more aggressive member is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Well before his publicized speech critical of the State Department, Mr. Gingrich was weighing in behind the scenes on a number of top issues, including whether the Army should buy the family of armored vehicles called the Stryker.

From his "Thirdwave" e-mail address, Mr. Gingrich sends his views to, among others, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Rumsfeld's assistants, Gen. Peter Pace, the Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, Victoria Clark, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Some of Mr. Gingrich's e-mails from last year showed he fought passionately to have Mr. Rumsfeld cancel or curtail the Stryker vehicles.

In one Internet mail, Mr. Gingrich said the vehicle will not fit in the C-130, the military's workhorse tactical cargo plane.

"This requirement has to be non-negotiable and the Stryker simply fails to meet it. Stryker should either be cancelled or limited to one test brigade that will never be air transported but that could be used to test the new electronics, etc. ... It is impossible for this system to be funded in the next budget at levels requested. It has failed in ways which are not, repeat NOT correctable."

In the end, Mr. Rumsfeld opted to fund the Stryker in the Army's drive to get to hot spots faster.

Wolfowitz to Balkans
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz departs today for a four-day trip to the Balkans to meet with U.S. peacekeeping forces stationed in the region.

Mr. Wolfowitz will visit Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia, before traveling to Romania and France.

Mr. Wolfowitz tomorrow will visit the site in Bosnia of a killing field in Srebrenica, where some 7,000 Muslims were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995 while about 200 Dutch troops working for the United Nations as peacekeepers stood idly by.

The atrocity, the worst in Europe since World War II, highlighted the failure of European governments to deal effectively with the ethnic conflict and led to U.S. intervention.

  • 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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