Return to

December 5, 2003
Notes from the Pentagon

Logo defense
Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish is the man in charge of deploying President Bush's prized missile defense system next year. But he has taken time out for another chore. He is trying to change the culture inside the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (previously the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization). And some of his main weapons are new "tailorable" logos.

"We still need to accelerate the pace of cultural change if we are to be effective," Gen. Kadish said in a signed Nov. 17 memo to his staff.

"Toward that goal, I am directing all MDA element program offices to discontinue use of existing logos and replace them with a standard, but tailorable, MDA logo. Additionally, [special] functional offices must discontinue use of unique logos and use the standard MDA logo. We recognize and appreciate the importance of maintaining the proud tradition of our elements and functional areas, but all MDA personnel must shift focus towards a greater identification with MDA's mission. Logo use in briefing charts, patches, coffee mugs and other related items must follow these guidelines. The changeover to the new logos must be accomplished no later than the end of the calendar year."

Gen. Kadish then gives specific design instructions.

"The new tailorable logo is circular and will feature the words 'Missile Defense Agency' around the top and the element name identification around the bottom. Elements may include a new or existing design in the logo's center; however, text references to the element name cannot be included in the center design."

China-Taiwan battle
U.S. officials tell us a political battle is under way inside the Bush administration over Taiwan. The island is preparing to hold a referendum on a new constitution. Beijing has raised tensions in recent weeks with threats of war against Taiwan, saying the referendum is a move toward independence from China.

The issue is coming to a head as Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao prepares to visit Washington next week. Mr. Wen is expected to criticize the Bush administration for supporting Taiwan through arms sales and other support.

The U.S. government has never formally stated that it believes Taiwan is a part of China, as Beijing insists. But the actual legal status of Taiwan has been left ambiguous since the Japanese withdrew after World War II.

Officials say pro-China officials in the Bush administration are trying to shift the Taiwan policy in favor of Beijing's position that Taiwan is part of China, and that the United States should not support a free and independent Taiwan.

James Moriarity, the White House National Security Council Asia specialist, is said to be an advocate of the new pro-Beijing position along with long-time sinophile Douglas Paal, the U.S. representative in Taiwan.

The policy shift, if carried out, would undermine President Bush's 2001 statement that the United States would do "whatever it takes" to defend Taiwan from Chinese aggression.

Mr. Moriarity, who is in Asia now, is leaving the NSC in the next several months to become ambassador to Nepal. His replacement is expected to be Michael Green, a Japan specialist. Advocates for Taiwan in the Senate say Mr. Moriarity's ambassadorship could be held up over the Taiwan issue.

U.S. policy toward Taiwan is codified in the 1978 law known as the Taiwan Relations Act. The law states that it is U.S. policy to "preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the United States and the people on Taiwan, as well as the people on the China mainland and all other peoples of the Western Pacific area."

It also says that establishing diplomatic relations with communist China was based on "the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means."

The law also states that the United States must "maintain the capacity ... to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan."

French or American?
The Army will soon have to make a multibillion-dollar decision on whether to buy a made-in-America surveillance jet or one produced by a Brazilian company, partly owned by the French.

The Army needs a new surveillance plane to aid ground troops during battle. The small jet, called the Aerial Common Sensor (ACS), would fly on the edge of the fighting, collecting intercepted communications and photo images to pass on to ground commanders. The program is worth an estimated $6 billion for 38 planes. Most of the cost is dedicated to the ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) electronics package supplied by Lockheed or Northrop Grumman, the competing prime contractors.

There are two contesting teams: Lockheed Corp. and team member Embraer of Brazil versus Northrop Grumman Corp. Northrop Grumman's entry is the Gulfstream G450 jet produced by General Dynamics Corp. in several states, with assembly in Georgia.

Some on Capitol Hill are whispering that if Lockheed wins it will be a victory for two foreign adversaries at the expense of American companies. Brazil opposed the United States on the war in Iraq and on trade issues. A stake in Embraer is owned by the French company Dassault. French opposition to the war in Iraq angered many members of Congress.

Lockheed points out that Embraer is opening a plant in Jacksonville, Fla., to qualify as a U.S. contractor. "It will be built by Americans with American parts," said Judy Gan, spokeswoman for Lockheed's Integrated Systems and Solutions division in Gaithersburg. Miss Gan said there are safeguards to protect the American know-how in the sensor suite that would be installed in the Embraer ERJ145 jet.

Iraq scenario
A military official in Baghdad tells us the coalition is not yet at a "tipping point" in Iraq that is a pivotal moment when the war trends in one direction or the other. But the expectation of some officers is that the tipping will occur in the next few months, as American soldiers methodically eliminate Saddam Hussein's guerrilla followers.

"I think we have to wait a bit," said the first official. "Strategically speaking, we may have to wait 50 years to determine if democracy is installed and institutionalized here."

CIA on Flight 800
The CIA recently declassified a once-secret report on eyewitnesses to the crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island, N.Y., on July 17, 1996. CIA analyst Randolph M. Tauss, who won an intelligence medal for his work on the crash, concluded that numerous eyewitnesses who saw a streak of light heading toward the Boeing 747 jetliner were wrong if they believed it was surface-to-air missile going toward the jet.

Based on sound-travel analysis and a spy satellite sensor, Mr. Tauss stated: "Any eyewitness who thinks he may have seen a missile shoot down Flight 800 needs to have seen something that occurred more than 42 seconds before the aircraft broke into 'two distinct fireballs' and more than 49 seconds before the plane hit the water," he wrote. "CIA analysts are not aware of any eyewitness who did."

Evidence that the streak was burning fuel from the aircraft, which is believed to have exploded shortly after takeoff from a spark inside a center-wing fuel tank, is "extensive and compelling," Mr. Tauss stated.

"Nevertheless, a few people, driven by what they perceive to be an overwhelming number of eyewitnesses who 'saw' a missile attack the plane, persist in thinking otherwise," he said. "Confident that so many eyewitnesses cannot be 'wrong,' they have concluded that the government, for whatever reason, is covering up the true cause of the crash."

Some U.S. officials blame former FBI New York Director James Kallstrom for propagating the terrorist theory. Mr. Kallstrom took control of the crash investigation from the National Transportation Safety Board for months by insisting the crash was a terrorist attack. He gave up the theory after the agency's deputy director for intelligence wrote him a note in March 1997 stating that "the total absence of physical evidence of a missile attack leads CIA analysts to conclude that no such attack occurred."

  • 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