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August 11, 2006
Notes from the Pentagon

'House cleaners'
Army Special Forces soldiers are expressing outrage, among themselves, over purported remarks made by Lt. Gen. Dell Dailey last week at a meeting with new U.S. ambassadors at U.S. Special Operations Command (Socom) in Tampa, Fla.

But both a Socom spokesman and a senior officer tells us the Special Forces troops, better known as Green Berets, are misquoting Gen. Dailey, who directs the Center for Special Operations, the critically important war-planning arm for all commandos. The tempest got so bad last week that Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., contacted retired Green Berets to try to correct what Socom considered inaccurate e-mails.

The genesis of the brouhaha was Socom's hosting of American ambassadors who are about to be posted in embassies abroad. The briefings are important because nothing gets done by the military inside a foreign nation unless the U.S. ambassador is on board. The Washington Times first reported in 2004 that Socom had started posting Green Berets at various embassies to get a better handle on al Qaeda's presence in those countries. It's all part of a larger plan by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to empower Socom to capture or kill Islamic militants in the war on terror.

Special Forces soldiers are quoting Gen. Dailey as telling the ambassadors that U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), home to Delta Force and Navy SEALs, are the warriors, while Special Forces are the "house cleaners."

(As background, it should be noted their are some ill feelings between Green Berets and the Delta Force-SEALs. Special Forces soldiers complain that JSOC teams wait at bases until intelligence finds a target to hit. Green Berets say it is their "A" Teams who go out into the countryside for days at a time to find intelligence and fight insurgents.)

When the "house cleaners" remark reached some Special Forces soldiers, they reacted with anger. "This is proof that JSOC has outgrown their own egos," commented one. "They obviously forgot their roots and heritage."

But a Socom spokesman told us the soldiers have it all wrong. Yes, Gen. Dailey did meet with ambassadors and did use the term "house cleaners."

Col. Samuel Taylor said the remark was not in reference to Special Forces or Rangers or any of the special operations units. Instead, he was describing the headquarters that make up the special operations community.

"Lieutenant General Dailey was speaking strictly about the role of the Socom component headquarters, not the role of [Special Operations Forces] personnel who are performing warfighting missions every day," Col. Taylor said.

A senior special operations forces officer, who asked not to be named, said Gen. Dailey was showing the ambassadors an organizational chart of Socom, with the commands under it responsible for training and equipping the force. It was these commands that he labeled the "house cleaners." No units below those commands were included.

"He meant that in an affectionate way," the officer said. "To the people who were present, they understood the context of what was said."

A good sign in the war on terror: U.S. Army Special Operations Command in June met its annual goal for signing up Green Beret candidates three months before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

There are strains on the current Special Forces units, as private employers offer big bucks for counterterrorism experts and security details. But Army soldiers continue to apply to become Green Berets in ample numbers. "We feel the quality has not slipped a single bit," a defense source said.

China connection
U.S. intelligence officials reminded us this week that China was a key player in helping Iran's missile and rocket program, which is now in full international view with the fighting in southern Lebanon.

Iran has developed a variety of short-range rockets and missiles with the help of China and transferred thousands of the weapons to the Hezbollah forces now fighting Israel.

Most of the Hezbollah rockets are unguided weapons with ranges of between 10 and 30 miles.

However, Iran is also believed to have supplied Hezbollah with longer-range weapons, including missiles than can travel up to 120 miles. Richard Fisher, a weapons expert with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said in a recent report that the most alarming Chinese system used by Hezbollah so far is a variant of China's C-802 anti-ship cruise missile. Two of the cruise missiles were fired at an Israeli coastal patrol boat July 14, killing four sailors.

"Through Hezbollah, Iran has only unleashed a small taste of its Chinese-aided arsenal," Mr. Fisher said. "But its willingness to share very sophisticated weapons like the C-802 should provide warning that Iran is capable of doing much more."

The Iran-China short-range missile cooperation was disclosed in a classified intelligence report from 1997, made public in this newspaper. The report said that the head of Iran's solid-propellent missile program arranged for a delegation of missile technicians from Iran to visit China on May 7 of that year to observe a static motor test of a 450 mm-diameter rocket motor that was being produced for Iran's indigenous 105-mile-range NP-110 missile.

The Iranians also purchased special X-ray equipment in China for the NP-110 program, the report said.

Intelligence officials said the Chinese cooperation was vital to Iran's missile and rocket program and that the Chinese technology was incorporated in the Iranian missiles and rockets now being used by Hezbollah.

'Hiring Heroes'
For those who doubt the Pentagon cares about its severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, you need only travel to one of the military's "Hiring Heroes" job fairs.

The sixth one the first two-day event was held this week at Fort Gordon in August, Ga. About 250 wounded soldiers from bases in the Southeast participated, along with counselors and employers.

Counselors showed the men and women how to complete resumes and conduct job interviews. On the second day, the vets met with prospective employers from the federal government and private industry, including defense contractors. The Pentagon was authorized to hire on the spot.

"The one prevalent attitude was one of gratitude that 'somebody cares,'" said a person who attended the job fair.

Sponsored by the U.S. Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the next "Hiring Heroes" will be Sept. 19-20 at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

Making quotas
The Army announced yesterday it has met its monthly recruiting goal for the 14th straight month.

"In the first ten months of fiscal year 2006, more soldiers have re-enlisted in the Army, 109,056, than can fit in the Rose Bowl. Two out of three soldiers eligible to re-enlist, continue to re-enlist," a statement 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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