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December 31, 2004
Notes from the Pentagon

Loose lips
After The Washington Times disclosed internal Army briefings that detailed new plans to put women in combat, Lt. Gen. James Campbell put out a memo ordering officials to better safeguard materials. Here are his four measures:

"All staff and secretariat offices will keep strict accountability of the number of copies produced."

"Staff members ... will not list the subject of specific meetings and briefings on their routinely distributed personal calendars. Either indicate pre-decisional briefing or the names of the people attending the briefing."

"Within your office, ensure paper-based products with words, regardless of classification, are discarded in strike bags." [A strike bag means it is set aside for destruction.]

"Finally, strictly enforce e-mail discipline. Think what you say and who might read it. Take it to the extreme imagine what you are putting in an e-mail will be on the front page of the paper tomorrow. When in doubt, use classified e-mail."

Targeting snipers
Gen. John P. Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff, said recently that Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being used effectively in Iraq to kill insurgent snipers and other terrorists.

Dozens of Predator drones armed with Hellfire anti-tank missiles were used against snipers in Fallujah during recent fighting, Gen. Jumper told reporters at a breakfast earlier this month.

"We used a lot of the Hellfire missile capability off of our Predator UAVs to take out individual small targets like snipers and the like that were found by the ground forces," he said.

"It's not a thing where I get a daily report on the weird episode of firing Hellfire off a Predator, no. It's routine."

Gen. Jumper said he could not say whether the deadly missile shots had forced insurgents to change tactics. "But if I were one of the guys that were the targets of some of the events I saw, I would change my tactics," he said.

Predators also are now outfitted with laser designators that can be used to direct precision-guided bombs to targets, he said.

Another tactic being used is old-fashioned aerial gun strafing of targets, with an added high-technology twist.

Gen. Jumper said a relatively new 20 mm round is being used in aircraft strafing missions in Iraq that has a 20 to 25 percent longer range and greater muzzle velocity.

"And you don't walk [the stream of bullets] in there, you very precisely put these computer-controlled pippers [gunsight cursors] on targets and you let go with a one-second burst, which is about 100 or more rounds of stuff that you put into some of these soft-sided buildings and you've done quite a job," he said.

Iraq contract fraud
John A. Shaw, until recently the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, stated in a end-of-tour letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that senior Pentagon officials covered up contracting fraud related to a cellular telephone network project in Iraq.

The fraud involved $30 million in bribes, $225 million in misappropriated funds and $210 million in missing funds, according to Mr. Shaw's Dec. 3 letter.

Mr. Shaw stated that "the allegations involve [Undersecretary of Defense for Policy] Douglas Feith, his former law partner Mark Zell, Ahmed Chalabi and others."

"For referring these preliminary findings on, a substantial smear campaign against me and my report was launched at the highest levels of the Pentagon and in the national news media," said Mr. Shaw, who lost his job a week after writing the letter in a Pentagon reorganization that eliminated his post.

"So I am faced with a group of people who want to destroy me and quash serious criminal allegations, who are acting in your name," he stated.

Mr. Shaw requested that he be allowed to continue in his post until he could produce a report and then said he would be willing to move on to another position.

"A cancer has been growing on some of our [Coalition Provisional Authority] CPA activities for over a year and I can perform a final service for you in dealing with it," Mr. Shaw said. Raymond F. DuBois, director of the Pentagon's office of administration and management, replied in a Dec. 6 letter that Mr. Shaw's appointment would end Dec. 10. Mr. DuBois also notified the Pentagon inspector general of the charges made by Mr. Shaw.

A Pentagon spokesman dismissed Mr. Shaw's charges as "absurd and without foundation."

Two Pentagon officials working in Iraq for the CPA left under a cloud of suspicion after financial mismanagement was uncovered in Iraq's communications agency. The departures followed an April 13 memorandum from the audit firm Bearing Point stating that financial controls over $435 million in U.S. funds "are either weak or nonexistent" and that funding of communications projects "is open to fraud, kickbacks and misappropriation of funds."

No policy shift
The White House said this week that recent comments by Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage on Taiwan do not alter President Bush's tough policy of helping the island defend itself from any mainland attack.

"Deputy Secretary Armitage's statements do not change U.S. policy on this matter," a senior official said. "U.S.-China-Taiwan policy remains the same."

Mr. Armitage set off a controversy in Taipei and Beijing when asked Dec. 10 by PBS interviewer Charlie Rose if the United States would defend Taiwan.

Mr. Armitage replied: "Well, you know, to make a statement like that is not quite appropriate. We have a requirement with the Taiwan Relations Act to keep sufficient force in the Pacific to be able to deter attack. We are not required to defend."

He also said that Taiwan is a "land mine" for U.S.-China relations.

The remarks appeared to undermine Mr. Bush's April 25, 2001 comments aimed at clarifying decades-long ambiguity about U.S. support for the island nation.

Asked in 2001 on ABC's "Good Morning America" if the United States had an obligation to defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China, Mr. Bush said: "Yes, we do, and the Chinese must understand that. Yes, I would."

Pressed on whether U.S. military forces would be used in the defense, Mr. Bush said: "Whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself."

The president's tough posture on Taiwan has led to new military plans for a defense of the island. It has also had an effect on the U.S. military buildup now underway in Asia as part of Pentagon military force transformation.

However, the president's Taiwan policy has been under attack from pro-China officials within the administration who favor Beijing's position that Taiwan is a breakaway province.

Administration officials suspect Mr. Armitage may have been trying to improve his business prospects in China by making the comments. He is stepping down soon and is expected to return to his consulting firm, Armitage Associates.

An administration official acknowledged that Mr. Armitage "did not speak with his normal precision" on the matter.

  • 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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