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Panel wants $7bn elite counter-terror unit

United Press International

September 26, 2002, Thursday


The United States should create an elite group of counter-terror operatives to make the war on terrorism pre-emptive and proactive, duping al Qaida into undertaking operations it is not prepared for and thereby exposing its personnel, a Pentagon report advocating more than $7 billion in new spending will recommend.

United Press International has exclusively obtained documents summarizing the report of the Defense Science Board, which will be publicly released in late October, after it has been presented to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The report, which reads in parts like a fantastical "spy vs. spy" manual, will also advocate tagging key terrorist figures with special chemicals so they can be tracked by laser anywhere on Earth; creating a special SWAT team to surreptitiously find and destroy chemical, biological and nuclear weapons all over the world; and creating a "red team" of particularly diabolical thinkers to plot imaginary terror attacks on the United States so the government can plan to thwart them.

These recommendations and many more comprise the report by the DSB, a panel of private industry executives that advise the Pentagon on technologies, threats and policies. The report outlines billions in new spending on counter-terror operations and an expanded new role for Joint Forces Command in preparing the military for urban battles. The report is entitled "Special Operations and Joint Forces in Countering Terrorism."

The counter-terror operations group alone would require 100 people and at least $100 million a year. Rather than simply trying to find and foil terrorists' plans -- the approach that characterizes the current strategy -- the "Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group" -- known as P2OG -- would devise ways to stimulate terrorists into responding or moving operations, possibly by stealing their money or tricking them with fake communications, according to the report.

The group would be comprised of specialists in information operations, psychological operations, computer network attack, covert activities, signal intelligence, human intelligence, special operations forces and deception operations.

The Defense Department already maintains a secretive counter-terror operations group known as Delta Force that is called in when a crisis happens; P2OG would focus its efforts on preventing those crises from even occurring in the first place.

The DSB is recommending the group be headed not by the Pentagon but by the White House's national security adviser's staff, a suggestion that is meeting some resistance in the Defense Department, according to sources close to the matter.

Rumsfeld has not been briefed on the report yet but many of his top generals have, including U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks, who is running the war against al Qaida in Afghanistan.

One of the most costly recommendations is an overhaul of the intelligence community's ability to penetrate terrorist cells to collect information. The technologies and methods to do so are classified in the report, but the price tag is not: $1.7 billion over a 5-year period beginning in 2004.

The panel also envisions a new breed of chemical and DNA tags to identify and track terrorist leaders. Agents could infiltrate terrorist groups and swab leaders' clothes with chemicals that would make them "light up" under a laser tracker. A DNA database could be created to track the same people by collecting samples of biological material from objects and papers handled by the targets.

The DSB would also convene a panel of some 24 creative, highly respected analysts -- and even people like author Tom Clancy who show a talent for dreaming up possible scenarios of destruction -- who would plan "as terrorists might" ways to attack the U.S. homeland and forces overseas. Funded at around $20 million a year, the panel would report their detailed plans to the CIA director. They would also report on what to look for in someone who is planning such an attack -- what materials are being purchased, what countries are being visited, and who would be contacted.

The panel would also create a team of specially trained special forces soldiers able to search out and take offensive action against suspected nuclear, chemical or biological weapons sites, offer force protection for U.S. soldiers nearby and "consequence management," like enforcing quarantines. That effort would cost about $500 million a year and U.S. Special Operations Command would be in charge.

That team would need a new set of battlefield sensors to determine when the weapons are being used, according to the DSB. Currently there are no tactical nuclear detectors that operate kilometers away from detonation -- a safe standoff range; no clandestine chemical detectors that operate kilometers away; and no biological agent detectors that operate at safe distances.

"No matter the sensing, 'agent defeat' (destroying or vitiating the effect of chemical or biological weapons) is critical and requires additional resources," the report states.

The Defense Science Board advocates $1 billion a year for research and development in sensor and "agent defeat" technologies.

Special Forces, the centerpiece of the war in Afghanistan, would move firmly to the center of military operations as the global war on terrorism continues, according to the DSB.

The panel sees Special Forces increasing the number and scope of exercises it conducts with conventional forces; increasing its size by about 2 percent a year; and dramatically increasing its budget.

Special operations is also one of the few ways that U.S. allies can offer comparable capabilities: Eight countries contributed special forces to the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

The costs of improving Special Forces' equipment, larger exercises and increasing international cooperation are in the "billions," according to the report.

The war on terrorism presents an intelligence challenge unlike anything the United States has seen before, and the Defense Science Board responds by suggesting the creation of a force of former intelligence retirees who could be recalled to duty instantly when a surge capacity of intelligence workers is needed. They would be called to active duty at least once a year and participate in counter-terror intelligence exercises -- a total effort that would cost about $100 million a year.

The counter-terrorism capabilities resident in the military services and intelligence agencies would be enhanced by the addition of 500 people over the next 18 months who would "focus on understanding effects of globalization, radicalism, cultures, religions, economics, etc., to better characterize potential adversaries." For the personnel increase and the technical capabilities they would need, the bill could rise to $800 million.

The panel would also add $200 million to the Joint Warfare Analysis Center -- a cell of about 500 planners and target analysts in Dahlgren, Va. -- and Joint Forces Command's net assessment center. The panel also recommends establishing other similar centers to support targeting of terrorist organizations and their supporting infrastructures.

Once the terrorists are found, the battles that ensue are likely to take place in urban environments, something for which the U.S. military is woefully underprepared, according to the DSB.

The entire spectrum of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance would be invigorated with an infusion of $1.6 billion per year over the next six years, with the emphasis on tying together unmanned aerial vehicles, manned platforms, space-based sensors and databases into a seamless whole. The money would also be invested in developing "a rich set of new ground sensor capabilities" that would be specially focused on watching small terrorist cells.

While the U.S. experience in Somalia in 1993, immortalized in the book and movie "Black Hawk Down," spurred more urban-operations training, the DSB asserts that there remain significant problems in doctrine, training and technology. It recommends creating a dedicated urban training range on the West Coast, similar in function to the Army's National Training Center in California. Training would emphasize small unit action, leadership initiative and flexibility and low-level control of supporting fire -- that is, having relatively junior members of the military decide how much back-up fire they need, when and where.

That effort would require $300 million a year for the next six years. Joint Forces Command, now charged with experimentation in military concepts, would be put in charge of research and development of technologies and tactics in urban warfare. Like U.S. Special Forces Command, it would be given a separate budget it could invest however it deemed necessary, without relying on the military services.

In fact, the report recommends that Joint Forces Command should be given power over the military services' command and control investments, to ensure that all will be using interoperable equipment, enabling joint operations during war and exercises.

Intrinsic to urban warfare would be the development of a detailed database of most of the cities in the world where troops might be engaged, with GPS coordinates marking key structures and roads. The database would be constantly updated. It would come together in a three-dimensional display showing buildings, including windows and doors, streets and alleys and underground passages, obstacles like power lines and key infrastructure like water and communications lines.

The Defense Science Board also believes the military's "rear flank" -- protecting its people, forces, critical infrastructures, and ability to mobilize forces safely -- needs a great deal more attention.

"Increase 10-fold over three years the people and resources devoted to assessing vulnerabilities of our DOD force projection capabilities and critical infrastructure," the report recommends.

The report also suggests conducting an extensive vulnerability assessment on military posts and mobility routes. Together the efforts would cost more than $250 million.

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