Return to

July 4, 2003
Notes from the Pentagon

Missile threat
The Pentagon is putting the finishing touches on its annual report to Congress about the military power of communist China.

The report is expected to be made public in the next few months, unless, as occurred in the past, its release is held up by pro-China officials who fear the report will upset Beijing.

The highlight of this year's report, as in previous years, is the dramatic increase in short-range missiles opposite Taiwan.

According to defense officials, the new report will reveal that China now has 450 CSS-6 and CSS-7 missiles within striking distance of Taiwan.

Last year's report stated that China's short-range missile force was about 350 missiles, all in the Nanjing military region, which is opposite Taiwan.

The earlier report also said that China's military is adding missiles at a rate of about 50 a year, making the 100 new missiles over the past year double the estimate.

The new report will state that the missile force is growing by 75 new missiles a year and that the number will reach 600 missiles by 2005.

The emerging report also will warn that the Chinese missiles are getting more accurate and lethal. The missiles will use global positioning system (GPS) navigation for midflight guidance corrections.

Special assistant
Defense officials tell us that Jaymie Durnan, the special assistant to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, is among contenders for the plum post of undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics the Pentagon's top arms-buying job.

Mr. Durnan, a lawyer by training, has been Mr. Wolfowitz's point man on a number of thorny issues. He played a large role in the Pentagon's decision to back one of the Army's top priorities the Stryker light armored vehicle.

The undersecretary post was left vacant after Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge retired in May. The job has been carried out since then by Michael W. Wynne, principal deputy undersecretary for AT&L.

Lockheed Martin announced June 26 that Mr. Aldridge was elected to the defense contractor's board of directors.

In another vacancy, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is looking at four candidates from which to pick the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, including one who has media experience. Victoria Clarke resigned from the job last month.

Navy intel cuts
In its efforts to free up part-time sailors, the Navy last month deactivated several hundred intelligence reservists who were playing an important role in the war on terrorism.

The cuts, including Navy intelligence officials who had up to 18 months left on their tours, have angered some officials who see the move as potentially dangerous.

"The decision to cut by a third the reserve intelligence and operations assets fighting the war on terrorism is a conscious if foolish decision," one analyst told us. "Rest assured, should this country suffer an intelligence failure and a resultant terrorism attack, the Navy's action will be cited by some of us in the intelligence community as a contributing cause."

Among the agencies hit hard by the reserve cutback are the Office of Naval Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency Counter-Terrorism Operations Group and the DIA's Joint Intelligence Task Force Countering Terrorism.

Many of the reserve intelligence officers are specialists in terrorist group personalities, doctrine and modes of operation and "are the central and core element" of the reservists working the counterterrorism problem.

A Navy spokesman said the demobilizaton of reservists is a management issue related to making sure the Navy has enough money for its critical missions.

Religious accommodation
Former Air Force Capt. Ryan Berry has won a long struggle with the Defense Department on his right to reject intimate postings with the opposite sex.

The case began in 1998 at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, where the West Point graduate served as a missileer in an underground Minuteman III silo.

A devout Catholic, Mr. Berry had won permission from commanders not to serve 24- to 48-hour shifts with women officers. He believed he should avoid "situations in which he might develop inappropriate intimacy even platonic with a female who is not his wife," said the Becket Fund for religious liberty, which represented Mr. Berry in his court appeals.

"Berry regularly worked with women in all other aspects of his job and received a favorable evaluation from his female superior officer."

A new commander terminated the religious accommodations and entered critical comments on Mr. Berry's fitness reports. The Air Force refused to remove them, and he filed a lawsuit in 2002.

Last month, the Bush administration's Defense Department agreed to settle and the Air Force agreed to remove all derogatory material in his record and on military Web sites.

Mr. Berry left active duty and is in his final year of law school at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va.

There is no good news in the killings of two Army soldiers who disappeared from their posts last week in Iraq. But there was a good sign. The enemy did not take their two rifles, suggesting the guerrilla warfare in Iraq is not well-organized.

"If it had been a classic insurgency, they would have taken the rifles and stockpiled them at a central location," said an Army Green Beret.

The officer said the Iraqi resistance is now in what he would call phase one: not centrally controlled; small groups attempting to marry up with other fighters to form larger units. The source said it is critical for U.S. forces to stop the insurgency at this point before it grows larger and attracts more support from the population.

U.S. Central Command has disbanded Task Force 11, the group of elite Delta Force and Navy SEAL commandos who hunted high-value Taliban and al Qaeda operators in and around Afghanistan.

Some of its members transferred to the Iraq theater, where they formed Task Force 20, the group tasked to hunt for senior Ba'ath Party members, including Saddam Hussein and his two sons, Uday and Qusai. Task Force 20 is primarily made up of Delta, SEALs and units from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Asked who is now hunting for Osama bin Laden and ousted Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, a military officer answered, "Other folks are doing that."

Frustrated by search results in Iraq, the Bush administration yesterday offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam's capture or for proof that he is dead. A $15 million bounty was placed on each of the heads of his two sons.

The CIA believes Saddam is probably still alive and in Iraq, but does not know for sure.

Happy Fourth
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's Fourth of July message to the troops, in part:

"You are the men and women who are fighting this new war. Your gallantry and courage in the face of evil has stirred the souls of all Americans. Day after day, week after week, they have seen your faces and read your stories. They have shared your sorrows and celebrated your victories. And in each one of you they see reflected their deeply felt honor, pride and patriotism. Through your valor and sacrifice, our Republic has been strengthened and renewed."

  • 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

  • Inside the Ring Archives
    1999 Columns
    2000 Columns
    2001 Columns

    2002 Columns
    2003 Columns
    Return to