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Rumsfeld toughens terror fight
By Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has ordered his
top special-operations general to accelerate covert missions
in the war on terrorism because he is impatient with the pace
at which al Qaeda terrorists are captured or killed, The
Washington Times has learned.
Administration officials say
Gen. Charles R. Holland, who
leads U.S. Special Operations
Command, has completed an initial
war plan referred to inside the
Bush administration as "the first 30
The highly classified plan calls
for new types of clandestine
operations that could be initiated
against terrorist targets at a
moment's notice, outside
restrictions of traditional law enforcement.
Gen. Holland's draft is circulating inside the Pentagon. He
was scheduled to brief Mr. Rumsfeld soon, perhaps as early
Gen. Holland's command will also gain new
responsibilities in the global war, although regional combatant
commanders, such as Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S.
Central Command, will retain overall control of their area of
Some officials inside the administration view Mr.
Rumsfeld's moves as somewhat of a rebuke to Gen. Franks,
who is running the war in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater.
Three administration sources said Mr. Rumsfeld is not
happy at the rate at which al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are
being found and eliminated in Gen. Franks' theater. Some of
Mr. Rumsfeld's senior advisers view the four-star Army
general as too cautious.
One source said Gen. Holland will have a bigger say in
which type of special-operations missions are run in
In recent weeks, Mr. Rumsfeld asked Gen. Holland and
other senior military officials to devise a new plan for
attacking terrorist cells around the world, primarily using
covert warriors. The "30 percent" plan is so named because it
reflects about one-third of the total plan Gen. Holland is now
Mr. Rumsfeld is giving Special Operations Command new
powers to organize specific missions. The Pentagon
designates its combatant commands as either "supported,"
such as Central Command, or "supporting," such as Special
Operations Command. These two key words describe the
general relationship between combatant commanders.
Sources said Special Operations Command will now be a
"supported command" in some circumstances.
Sources said Mr. Rumsfeld has not always been happy
with Gen. Franks' planning in Afghanistan or for a possible
war against Iraq. Still, Gen. Franks has important supporters
inside the administration, including Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell, a former Army general and Joint Chiefs chairman.
President Bush is described as especially fond of the fellow
Mr. Rumsfeld publicly supports Gen. Franks and says the
9-month-old Afghanistan mission is on track but still
Officials familiar with the "30 percent plan" say Mr.
Rumsfeld wants ideas on how to expand the use of
special-operations forces, including elite Army Delta Force
commandos and Navy SEALs.
Mr. Rumsfeld, one of the Bush Cabinet's most hawkish
members, wants these covert warriors to capture or kill
terrorists outside civilian law enforcement, where operations
can take months to win approval.
"Rumsfeld wants to stay as far away from law
enforcement as possible," said one source, who adds that, as
is usual for the defense secretary, he wants "new thinking."
The defense secretary seeks a new operating plan
whereby special-operations forces can be deployed
extremely rapidly against a terrorist target. He wants Gen.
Holland to design different types of operations, perhaps with
new tactics, to disrupt or destroy terrorist cells, officials told
Whatever final plan Mr. Rumsfeld approves must be
approved by Mr. Bush. The president is said to share the
defense secretary's thinking on the need to eliminate al Qaeda
members at a faster rate.
Gen. Holland in October 2000 assumed command of
Special Operations Command at McDill Air Force Base in
The general, who oversees all the branches' covert
warriors, has flown more than 100 combat missions, including
79 in the AC-130 during the Vietnam War.
The AC-130, armed with two cannons, has played a
major role in Afghanistan, backing ground troops on night
Mr. Rumsfeld is already relying heavily on
special-operations troops in the global war declared by Mr.
Bush after al Qaeda terrorists flew hijacked jetliners into the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11,
killing more than 3,000 people.
Commandos are training anti-terror units in the
Philippines, Yemen and Georgia. In Afghanistan, they turned
the tide of battle by organizing anti-Taliban forces and
pointing out targets for strike pilots.
Now, Delta Force and SEALs, part of a special Task
Force 11, are hunting down senior al Qaeda and Taliban
leaders in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.