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Home Front: WoT
NYT blows another national defense story
2006-03-08
The military is placing small teams of Special Operations troops in a growing number of American embassies to gather intelligence on terrorists in unstable parts of the world and to prepare for potential missions to disrupt, capture or kill them.

Senior Pentagon officials and military officers say the effort is part of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's two-year drive to give the military a more active intelligence role in the campaign against terrorism. But it has drawn opposition from traditional intelligence agencies like the C.I.A., where some officials have viewed it as a provocative expansion into what has been their turf.

Officials said small groups of Special Operations personnel, sometimes just one or two at a time, have been sent to more than a dozen embassies in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America. These are regions where terrorists are thought to be operating, planning attacks, raising money or seeking safe haven.

Their assignment is to gather information to assist in planning counterterrorism missions, and to help local militaries conduct counterterrorism missions of their own, officials said.

The new mission could become a major responsibility for the military's fast-growing Special Operations Command, which was authorized by President Bush in March 2004 to take the lead in military operations against terrorists. Its new task could give the command considerable clout in organizing the nation's overall intelligence efforts.

The Special Operations command reports to Mr. Rumsfeld, and falls outside the orbit controlled by John D. Negroponte, the newly established director of national intelligence, who oversees all the nation's intelligence agencies. An episode that took place early in the effort underscored the danger and sensitivity of the work, even for soldiers trained for secret combat missions.

In Paraguay a year and a half ago, members of one of the first of these "Military Liaison Elements" to be deployed were pulled out of the country after killing a robber armed with a pistol and a club who attacked them as they stepped out of a taxi, officials said. Though the shooting had nothing to do with their mission, the episode embarrassed senior embassy officials, who had not been told the team was operating in the country.

One official who was briefed on the events, but was not authorized to discuss them, said the soldiers were not operating out of the embassy, but out of a hotel.

Now, officials at the Special Operations Command say, no teams may arrive without the approval of the local ambassador, and the soldiers are based in embassies and are trained to avoid high-profile missteps.

Under guidelines established by Mr. Negroponte, the C.I.A. station chief assigned to most American embassies coordinates American intelligence in those countries.

Most embassies also include defense attachés, military personnel who work with foreign armed forces and report to the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. But the new special operations personnel have a more direct military role: to satisfy the military's new counterterrorism responsibilities, officials said.

Special Operations forces include the Army Green Berets and Rangers, the Navy Seals, the Marines and special Air Force crews that carry out the most specialized or secret military missions. Their skills range from quick strikes to long-range reconnaissance in hostile territory, military training and medical care.

The creation of the Military Liaison Elements, and the broader tug-of-war over the Special Operations Command's new role, appear to have exacerbated the disorganization, even distrust, that critics in Congress and the academic world have said permeates the government's counterterrorism efforts.

Officials involved in the debate say the situation may require President Bush and his senior national security and defense advisers to step in as referees, setting boundaries and clarifying the orders of the military and other intelligence agencies.

Many current and former C.I.A. officials view the plans by the Special Operations Command, or Socom, as overreaching.

"The Department of Defense is very eager to step up its involvement in counterterrorism activities, and it has set its sights on traditional C.I.A. operational responsibilities and authorities," said John O. Brennan, a 25-year C.I.A. officer who headed the National Counterterrorism Center before retiring last year. "Quite unfortunately, the C.I.A.'s important lead role in many of these areas is being steadily eroded, and the current militarization of many of the nation's intelligence functions and responsibilities will be viewed as a major mistake in the very near future."

Mr. Brennan, now president of the Analysis Corporation, an intelligence contractor in Virginia, said that if Socom operations were closely coordinated with host countries and American ambassadors, "U.S. interests could be very well served."

But, he added, "if the planned Socom presence in U.S. embassies abroad is an effort to pave the way for unilateral U.S. military operations or to enable defense elements to engage in covert action activities separate from the C.I.A., U.S. problems abroad will be certain to increase significantly."

Paul Gimigliano, a spokesman for the C.I.A., gave a measured response to the program, but emphasized the importance of the agency's station chief in each country.

"There is plenty of work to go around," he said, adding: "One key to success is that intelligence activities in a given country be coordinated, a process in which the chief of station plays a crucial role."

A State Department official said late Tuesday, "We don't have any issue with D.O.D. concerning this," using the initials for Department of Defense. The State Department official said the Military Liaison Element program was set up so that "authority is preserved" for the ambassador or the head of the embassy.

The Special Operations Command has not publicly disclosed the Military Liaison Element mission, and answered questions about the effort only after it was described by officials in other parts of the government who oppose the program.

"M.L.E.'s play a key role in enhancing military, interagency and host nation coordination and planning," said Kenneth S. McGraw, a spokesman for the Special Operations Command, based in Tampa, Fla. The special operations personnel work "with the U.S. ambassador and country team's knowledge to plan and coordinate activities," he added.

Officials involved with the program said its focus is on intelligence and planning and not on conducting combat missions. One official outside the military, who has been briefed on the work but is not authorized to discuss it publicly, said more than 20 teams have been deployed, and that plans call for the effort to be significantly expanded.

In a major shift of the military's center of gravity, the Unified Command Plan signed by President Bush in 2004 says the Special Operations Command now "leads, plans, synchronizes, and as directed, executes global operations against terrorist networks," in addition to its more traditional assignment to train, organize and equip Special Operations forces for missions under regional commanders.

Recently, Gen. Bryan D. Brown, the Socom commander, and his staff have produced a counterterrorism strategy that runs more than 600 pages. It is expected to be presented to Mr. Rumsfeld in the next few weeks for final approval.

According to civilian and military officials who have read or were briefed on the document, it sets forth specific targets, missions and deadlines for action, both immediate and long-term.

One goal of the document is to set the conditions for activity wherever the military may wish to act in the future, to make areas inhospitable to terrorists and to gather the kind of information that the Special Operations Command may need to operate.

The problem is difficult in nations where the American military is not based in large numbers, and in particular where the United States is not at war. Thus, the Military Liaison Elements may not be required in notable hot spots, like parts of the Middle East, where the American military is already deployed in large numbers.

During recent travels abroad, General Brown has sought to explain the program to C.I.A. and F.B.I. officials based at embassies. Joining him for those talks is a political adviser on full-time assignment from the State Department.

Socom also held a conference in Tampa last summer to brief Special Operations commanders from other nations, followed by a session in October for Washington-based personnel from foreign embassies on a range of counterterrorism issues.

One former Special Operations team member said the trick to making the program work is to navigate the bureaucratic rivalries within embassies — and back at the command's headquarters. "All you have to do is make the ambassador, the station chief and Socom all think you are working just for them," he said on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Lee H. Hamilton, who served as vice chairman of the national commission on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said that conflict between the C.I.A. and the Defense Department over paramilitary operations has occurred periodically for decades, and that the 9/11 commission had recommended that the Defense Department be given the lead responsibility for such activity.

But he said the embassy program raised a different issue. "If you have two or three D.O.D. guys wandering around a country, it could certainly cause some problems," Mr. Hamilton said. "It raises the question of just who is in charge of intelligence collection."

The cold war presented the military with targets that were easy to find but hard to kill, like a Soviet armored division. The counterterrorism mission presents targets that are hard to find but relatively easy to kill, like a Qaeda leader.

General Brown and the Special Operations Command now work according to a concept that has become the newest Pentagon catchphrase: "find, fix, finish and follow-up" — shorthand for locating terrorist leaders, tracking them precisely, capturing or killing them, and then using the information gathered to plan another operation.

"The military is great at fixing enemies, and finishing them off, and exploiting any base of operations that we take," said one Special Operations commander on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. "But the 'find' part remains a primitive art. Socom can't kill or capture the bad guys unless the intel people can find them, and this is just not happening."
Posted by:Dan Darling

#18  Whom we should shoot was left intentionally vague.
Posted by: Flomoting Ebbeanter8112   2006-03-08 23:38  

#17  Sounds like the Jeopardy answer to "What do we do with Gitmo after the courts force the release of the jihadists?"

Since we didn't shoot them where they stood.
Posted by: Flomoting Ebbeanter8112   2006-03-08 23:37  

#16  Rumsfeld knows exactly what he's doing. He's been lied to, deceived, and excluded from worthwhile intelligence by the CIA. He knows he can trust the military to tell him the truth. I only wish the President had the cojones to shut down the CIA completely and rebuild it from the ground up. Maybe once Rumsfeld has the people he wants in place, Bush will do that. Frankly, there are a lot of people in the DC area that need a one-way ticket to the boondocks of Alaska, in their tropical attire, in January. Maybe even delivered from 20,000 feet. I personally know several dozen people there that I would have no qualms something like that happening to them. They need to be totally separated from the US government, and without a retirement check or benefits.
Posted by: Old Patriot   2006-03-08 23:30  

#15  We need a pic of Rummy sitting in front of the tube last night, beer in hand, watching "The Unit." Anyone think this was timed with that show last night?

On another front, if the NYT is to be believed, this answers my buddy's prayer after watching "The Unit" last night...."God, I hope we have men like them in real life."
Posted by: BA   2006-03-08 12:14  

#14  CIA still looks to "State Centered" in an era of transnational terror and failed states.

The SpecOps in a hotel makes sense.
Posted by: mumbles   2006-03-08 11:51  

#13  If these "teams" are the hunter / killer wetwork squads that are so dearly needed, I'm all for them. Blowing their cover did nobody any good except our enemies, but that seems to be a major preoccupation for the MSM of late.

If America's various estates cannot achieve some sort of concensus on just how critical it is to conduct a swift and decisive campaign against terrorism on foreign shores, it will arrive here in at least one or two extremely brutal events (e.g., biochem or nuclear attack).

Once that happens, martial law will be a likely result and those news outlets who have become so accustomed to abetting our enemies may suddenly find themselves answering charges of sedition or treason. One can only hope that the public's response will be to boycott these ink-stained traitors and put them out of business for good. Sadly, our public is so ill informed as to be incapable of doing this now, when it might benefit us better.
Posted by: Zenster   2006-03-08 11:46  

#12  Raiding the Icebox
Behind Its Warm Front, the United States Made Cold Calculations to Subdue Canada

By Peter Carlson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 30, 2005; Page C01

Invading Canada won't be like invading Iraq: When we invade Canada, nobody will be able to grumble that we didn't have a plan.

The United States government does have a plan to invade Canada. It's a 94-page document called "Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan -- Red," with the word SECRET stamped on the cover. It's a bold plan, a bodacious plan, a step-by-step plan to invade, seize and annex our neighbor to the north. It goes like this:

First, we send a joint Army-Navy overseas force to capture the port city of Halifax, cutting the Canadians off from their British allies.

Then we seize Canadian power plants near Niagara Falls, so they freeze in the dark.

Then the U.S. Army invades on three fronts -- marching from Vermont to take Montreal and Quebec, charging out of North Dakota to grab the railroad center at Winnipeg, and storming out of the Midwest to capture the strategic nickel mines of Ontario.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy seizes the Great Lakes and blockades Canada's Atlantic and Pacific ports.

...

It sounds like a joke but it's not. War Plan Red is real. It was drawn up and approved by the War Department in 1930, then updated in 1934 and 1935. It was declassified in 1974 and the word "SECRET" crossed out with a heavy pencil. Now it sits in a little gray box in the National Archives in College Park, available to anybody, even Canadian spies. They can photocopy it for 15 cents a page.

War Plan Red was actually designed for a war with England. In the late 1920s, American military strategists developed plans for a war with Japan (code name Orange), Germany (Black), Mexico (Green) and England (Red). The Americans imagined a conflict between the United States (Blue) and England over international trade: "The war aim of RED in a war with BLUE is conceived to be the definite elimination of BLUE as an important economic and commercial rival."

In the event of war, the American planners figured that England would use Canada (Crimson) -- then a quasi-pseudo-semi-independent British dominion -- as a launching pad for "a direct invasion of BLUE territory." That invasion might come overland, with British and Canadian troops attacking Buffalo, Detroit and Albany. Or it might come by sea, with amphibious landings on various American beaches -- including Rehoboth and Ocean City, both of which were identified by the planners as "excellent" sites for a Brit beachhead.

more here
Posted by: Phaitch Unereth9076   2006-03-08 10:38  

#11  Operation Plan (OPLAN) XXXX covers the invasion and occupation of both Mars and Venus.
Posted by: Visitor   2006-03-08 09:26  

#10  I would be mad if they were'nt doing this. The only reason they would'nt would be so papers like the NT times won't report on it. Thank God they don't worry about that.
I'll have more respect for the NYT's and othe MSM outlet's quit printing anything about Osama and his cohorts, until they answer questions, you know, like Bush, Rice and Rumsfield do daily.
Posted by: plainslow   2006-03-08 09:25  

#9  Next up from the NYT....the Pentagon has invasion plans on file for virtually every nation on the planet, even ones we consider friendly!

(Ya think they'll mention that they've done this since, oh, circa WW2? Nah, I didn't think they would either. But I'm sure it would be shocking, shocking, to all the right people in Manhattan.)
Posted by: Desert Blondie   2006-03-08 09:22  

#8  You mean that the U.S. sends spies into other countries?
Posted by: Perfesser   2006-03-08 09:19  

#7  "Senior Pentagon officials and military officers say… where some officials have viewed it… Officials said… are thought to be… officials said… could become… could give… senior embassy officials… One official who was briefed on the events, but was not authorized to discuss them, said… officials at the Special Operations Command say… officials said… appear to have… critics in Congress and the academic world have said… Officials involved in the debate say… Many current and former C.I.A. officials view… is very eager… will be viewed… in the very near future… could be… if the planned… A State Department official said… The State Department official said… by officials in other parts of the government who oppose the program… Officials involved with the program said… One official outside the military, who has been briefed on the work but is not authorized to discuss it publicly, said… It is expected to be… According to civilian and military officials… may wish to act in the future… the kind of information… may need… may not be… a political adviser on full-time assignment from the State Department… personnel from foreign embassies… One former Special Operations team member… he said on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly… it could certainly cause… said one Special Operations commander on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly…"

Another straight scoop from the NYT.
Posted by: DepotGuy   2006-03-08 09:15  

#6  We are everywhere. Resistance is futile. Think of your wives, sons, and sheep. Surrender and submit. Free MRE's and cold bottled water await you.
Posted by: UnitSpokesman   2006-03-08 08:37  

#5  the NY Slimes that is naive. It believes that their "blockbuster" story will do damage to Rummy and the DoD, their arch enemy.

sure does look that way.
Posted by: lotp   2006-03-08 08:27  

#4  I don't see what the big deal is. Every embassy has a miltary attache whose job is to gather military intelligence. Looks to me like these SpecOps boys are just more of the same. The CIA is just pissed because it's incompetence is showing.
Posted by: Spot   2006-03-08 08:18  

#3  This is an overblown story. Fact is, there are special opns underway in virtually all of the locations cited.

My take is that it is the NY Slimes that is naive. It believes that their "blockbuster" story will do damage to Rummy and the DoD, their arch enemy.

When in reality, it simply means pulling a few SF people inside, probably at the behest of the countries involved.
Posted by: Captain America   2006-03-08 08:04  

#2  The issue is political. The CIA is a donk dominated agency. It's primary tactics are deception and betrayal. It leaks like a sieve. The DoD is a trunk dominated agency. Its primary tactics are to kill people and break things. It can keep a secret. Which would you use?

The politicization of these agencies, especially the CIA is a great mistake. DOD was not enamoured of Clinton but followed orders. The CIA has actively undermined Bush to the benefit of the nation's enemies. Things are getting fixed. Too bad, Langley.
Posted by: Nimble Spemble   2006-03-08 07:38  

#1  I realize I'm being naive, but I just don't see the issue, other than interdepartmental sniping. As I understand it, the CIA is interested in big picture spy stuff: what's the overall military and political situation in this or that country, are they tilting toward us or away, how can the leadership be influenced. The State Dept. needs to speak to the government in the President's voice -- if at all possible charming the locals in the process, process visas and such for the locals, and help U.S. citizens as needed. SOCOM's efforts are narrowly targetted: find a certain type of bad guy -- one who is active in Islamo-fascist terrorism, and capture or kill him/her -- if at all possible without being noticed by the authorities. And given how even countries like Pakistan adamantly deny the presence of such terrorists on their soil, it isn't like they can complain if something should happen to them, so long as U.S. flagged helicopters aren't seen overhead.

It's a pity that Paraguayan criminal got himself killed by his poor choice of victims, but that's the downside risk of engaging in such activities with unknown subjects. He would have been better off sticking to robbing street walkers and drunks... or even getting a proper, salaried job. But I suspect the same would have happened to him had he foolishly attacked a great many of the Rantburg cadre, male or female, regardless how retired from the business some of them are. ;-)
Posted by: trailing wife   2006-03-08 03:40  

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