The first 30 pages of the 78-page Defense Science Board's report, "Summer Study on Special Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering
Terrorism", are available at:
Report sees covert role for military in terror war
Special forces activity would expand abroad; Pentagon
advisory board; 'Pre-emptive operations' resemble
By Greg Miller
October 26, 2002
WASHINGTON - An influential Pentagon advisory board is
calling for a major expansion of the U.S. special
forces role in combating terrorism and is seeking a
new White House office to plan "pre-emptive" covert
operations around the globe.
The classified proposals urge the Pentagon to "take
the terrorist threat as seriously as it takes major
theater war," urging officials to launch secret
missions and intelligence operations to penetrate and
disrupt terrorist cells abroad.
Some of those operations should be aimed at signaling
to countries that harbor terrorists that "their
sovereignty will be at risk," according to a summary
of the Defense Science Board's recommendations,
described to the Los Angeles Times.
The recommendations were presented in high-level
Pentagon briefings this week that were conducted by
members of the board, a little-known but highly
respected advisory group that is funded and controlled
by the Pentagon.
If adopted, some of the proposals would appear to push
the military into territory that has traditionally
been the domain of the CIA, raising questions about
the extent to which such missions would be subject to
legal restraints imposed on CIA activities.
But William Schneider Jr., chairman of the Defense
Science Board, rejected such concerns, saying the
panel set out to identify ways that special forces
could do more to assist the war on terrorism, not
encroach on other agencies' authority.
"The CIA executes the plans, but they use Department
of Defense assets," Schneider said. He stressed that
the board is not recommending any changes to
long-standing U.S. policies banning assassinations, or
requiring presidents to approve in advance U.S. covert
operations. Nor, he said, is the panel advocating
changes that would erode congressional oversight.
The proposals, Schneider said, were "well-received" by
senior Pentagon officials this week and are scheduled
to be presented to Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld next week.
The board's recommendations are outlined in a 78-page
briefing document obtained by defense analyst and Los
Angeles Times military columnist William M. Arkin. The
document is explored in an Arkin column scheduled to
appear in tomorrow's commentary section of the paper.
It is certain to add to a growing debate over the
Pentagon's expanding role in the war on terrorism,
intelligence collection and covert operations.
Rumsfeld has touched off turf battles with the CIA and
other agencies in recent months, as he has sought to
consolidate authority over intelligence gathering in
the Pentagon and craft a more assertive role for U.S.
special forces in an array of overseas activities.
On Thursday, Rumsfeld acknowledged that shortly after
the Sept. 11 attacks last year, his office had created
a special intelligence analysis unit to examine
evidence of links between al-Qaida and Iraq, a task
that would ordinarily fall to the CIA.
At a news briefing, Rumsfeld said the Pentagon has "an
excellent relationship" with the agency. "It's been a
good relationship," he said.
Rumsfeld has been carving out an expanded role for
special forces. He recently gave the special
operations command the lead in the hunt for al-Qaida,
raising the possibility of covert operations even in
countries with which the United States is not at war.
Other Pentagon and intelligence officials say Rumsfeld
is deeply frustrated with the CIA's analyses on key
issues such as the threat posed by Iraq. He is eager
to have U.S. special forces usurp the agency's
traditional role, they say.
"He was upset when U.S. forces got on the ground in
Afghanistan last August and had to be introduced to
local tribal leaders by CIA operatives," said one
senior defense official. Rumsfeld would rather have
covert Pentagon operatives "operating elbow to elbow
with the CIA or independent of the CIA," the official
Many of the proposals in the Defense Science Board's
report would push the Pentagon toward that goal.
The report is titled "Summer Study on Special
Operations and Joint Forces in Support of Countering
It was produced by a 10-member panel of military
experts that included Vice Adm. William O. Studeman,
former director of the National Security Agency, which
eavesdrops on electronic communications around the
Greg Miller writes for the Los Angeles Times, a
Tribune Publishing newspaper.