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August 27, 2004
Notes from the Pentagon

Rummy's future
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld likely will step down in mid-2005 if President Bush wins re-election.

That is the word being passed around in the Pentagon for staffers trying to plan their futures. Our sources say Mr. Rumsfeld, 72, would have most of his transformation programs well in place by the time he left in the summer of 2005, or possibly that fall.

His spokesmen have declined to discuss his future. Mr. Rumsfeld has said his tenure as secretary is up to the president.

Talking points
The military is circulating these talking points to sell President Bush's plan for drawing down troops in Europe and South Korea.

•Give military personnel more time at home and fewer moves over a career

•Give military spouses few job changes

•Save billions of dollars in the long term by closing down bases overseas and using excess capacity in the United States.

• Increase the armed forces' flexibility by designating U.S.-based units for a large number of contingencies overseas.

China eyes PACOM
Defense officials tell us China's intelligence service agents and diplomats are scrambling to find out what was behind the announcement last week that Air Force Gen. Gregory S. Martin will be the new chief of the U.S. Pacific Command.

Gen. Martin aced out at least one Navy admiral for the job, and the Navy is said to be upset that the key post went to an Air Force general and not an admiral.

Recent past Pacific commanders have leaned toward the "China-is-not-a-threat" school of military officers who have tended to downplay the growing military buildup in China.

Traditionally, the Army usually gets the command of U.S. forces in South Korea and the Air Force has tended to be the lead service over military forces in Japan, while the Navy for decades has had the lead on forces in Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific.

The appointment of Gen. Martin is viewed by defense officials as an effort by Mr. Rumsfeld to toughen up the U.S. defense posture in the region, specifically toward China.

A senior defense official said a key feature of Mr. Rumsfeld's troop relocation plan is to "move the center of gravity [of U.S. forces] from Europe to Asia."

Gen. Martin has been involved in developing the Air Force's next generation of advanced weapons — arms that should make the Chinese think twice before attempting to invade Taiwan and risking U.S. retaliation.

A specialist on high-technology warfare who favors precision guided weapons, based on advanced sensors and good intelligence, Gen. Martin said in a speech in November that modern warfare is more about "integration" of forces and information, than just the idea of employing "joint" forces.

"I'm very high on the concept of integration," said Gen. Martin, who will be moving to Hawaii from his current job as commander of the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

"I'm very high on the concept of making sure we have standards and systems that do communicate and pass information, because frankly I don't care if it's an Air Force space system, an [National Reconnaissance Office] space system, a Navy airborne system, an Army trooper on the ground that gives me the last piece of information that puts the cursor over the target. It won't happen if they aren't integrated, so I'm absolutely dedicated to that."

Missile defense
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld took a jab at critics of U.S. missile defense efforts during a speech last week in Huntsville, Ala.

When he joined a commission on ballistic missile threats in 1998, "I was stunned by how theological the missile defense debate had become. It was really a hair knot," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

"Everyone felt something very, very strongly about it. Even the proponents disagreed very strongly. And the opponents disagreed very strongly. And things were pretty much on dead center as a result of it. It was a shame."

Mr. Rumsfeld said President Bush ended the impasse by junking the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. He noted that two years after Mr. Bush announced the decision to finally deploy a missile defense system, "in the past few weeks, the first interceptor has been put in place in Fort Greeley, Alaska," and that "by the end of this year we expect to have a limited operational capability against incoming ballistic missiles."

Mr. Rumsfeld said the initial deployment represents "the triumph of hope and vision over pessimism and skepticism." The deployment probably is "somewhat of a disappointment for those who were convinced it would fail," he said.

He noted his cordial discussions days earlier with Russian officials on missile defense and said that critics, primarily liberal weapons-control advocates, who think U.S. missile defenses would be destabilizing were wrong.

"The sky-is-falling group was wrong. The sky did not fall. It's still up there."

Mr. Rumsfeld also was asked about the danger of terrorists or rogue states attacking the United States by putting a short-range Scud-type missile on a freighter and firing it close to U.S. shores.

He said one Middle East nation already has "launched a ballistic missile from a cargo vessel."

"They had taken a short-range, probably Scud missile, put it on a transporter-erector launcher, lowered it in, taken the vessel out into the water, peeled back the top, erected it, fired it, lowered it, covered it up. And the ship that they used was using a radar and electronic equipment that was no different than 50, 60, 100 other ships operating in the immediate area."

Other U.S. officials have said the nation was Iran, which tested a freighter-launched missile in the Caspian Sea in the late 1990s.

"It is true that the big distinction we make between intercontinental, medium-range and shorter-range ballistic missiles doesn't make a lot of sense if you're going to move the missile closer to the target," he 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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