October 2, 2002
Vol. 8 No. 20
An influential panel of Pentagon advisers is advocating the creation of a "proactive, pre-emptive operating group" of high-level officials to dream up ways to antagonize and expose terrorist organizations and their leaders.
In a new study that was briefed in August and September to senior Defense Department officials, the Defense Science Board says the "new, elite" group would further President Bush's push to root out terrorists and those who harbor them around the world. Its formation is one of many recommendations advanced by a DSB task force set up by the Bush administration to study how to improve special operations and joint forces for the war on terrorism.
The DSB study also advocates a dramatic overhaul of many intelligence functions as well as a healthy increase in funding for human intelligence operations and efforts to learn more about potential adversaries. Further, it advocates giving special operations forces a "more central role" and augmenting their numbers by making more traditional units "SOF-like," according to the briefing and a task force official.
The overall goal is a to get DOD to view the war on terror "as seriously as it takes the likelihood and consequences of major theater war," according to a "final outbrief" obtained by sister publication Inside the Pentagon.
An official involved in the study told ITP that DSB task force members were struck by a "ho-hum" attitude held by some in government regarding the war on terror. "We're saying it's very serious," the source said, noting that the task force's recommendations carry hefty price tags -- a total of several billion dollars a year in additional money if all were implemented.
"Yeah, it's a lot of money," the official said, but the stakes are as high as at any point during the Cold War. "It's a big deal."
Among the task force's major concerns are the Defense Department's command, control, communications and computers abilities; the charts state DOD is "still struggling to get joint C4 right." Moreover, Pentagon processes are "overly focused on materiel," and both DOD and intelligence community "processes and cultures remain input- rather than product-oriented."
Similar issues are being debated in Congress and within the military. Lawmakers are in the throes of an exhaustive review of pre-Sept. 11 intelligence capabilities and failures while the intel community is embarking on a number of efforts designed to improve its reaction times and interoperability -- including a push to beef up human intelligence efforts.
Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently instructed senior officials to make interoperability of U.S. forces a top priority, with a new agency for interoperability a serious possibility. Key to Rumsfeld's concern is joint command and control problems.
The DSB summer study has not yet been briefed to Rumsfeld or reached Capitol Hill, but it has been seen by incoming U.S. Joint Forces Command chief Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane and others.
The task force envisions a greater role for JFCOM in the war on terror, and Giambastiani, a DSB official said, "thought it was absolutely fabulous" and asked for additional briefings. Also pleased were Keane and the director of the joint staff, the source said.
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Pete Aldridge, who commissioned the study along with outgoing JFCOM chief Gen. William Kernan, could be briefed soon. The recommendations contained in the final outbrief, however, will be rephrased and made less prescriptive, the official said. "We're going to leave most of this" up to DOD, he added.
'Raise hell' with terrorists One of the bigger ideas Aldridge and Rumsfeld will learn about when briefed is the Proactive, Pre-emptive Operating Group recommended by the DSB task force. The P2OG, which the science board says should report to the National Security Council's top counterterrorism official, would "stimulate reactions" and help prepare the battlespace for "pre-emptive options and actions," according to the DSB study briefing.
The group would aid in combating what the task force calls the "toughest challenge" in the war on terror: identifying and finding terrorist networks. The briefing likens the search to Cold War anti-submarine warfare efforts in its complexity and difficulty, with "very small 'signals' hidden in massive clutter and noise."
"We need to get these people where we can see them," a task force member told ITP.
The group would not be an operational unit; rather, it would come up with ways to "expose" and "raise hell" with terrorists -- "coordinate it, get it approved and then send the action item" to special operations forces or other appropriate personnel to carry it out, the official said.
Possible ways to "stimulate the terrorists to make stupid moves" include "stealing their money" or forcing them to move their headquarters, he added.
The P2OG could also play a role in signaling to "harboring states" that "their sovereignty will be at risk" unless they stop aiding terrorists.
The special operations executive in the NSC would define a national strategy for the group and its activities, coordinate its actions, "enunciate" policies and "execute [according] to a plan coordinated with the [defense secretary] and [director of central intelligence] as appropriate," the briefing states.
The task force estimates the formation of the group would require 100 "new" people and $100 million per year for operations and support. Those named to the group should possess "unique technical and intelligence skills" in areas such as information operations, psychological operations, network attack, covert activities, signals and human intelligence, special operations and "influence warfare/deception operations," the briefing states.
Hand in hand with the P2OG idea is the task force's recommendation for a major upgrade and overhaul of human intelligence capabilities. "Develop new capabilities, sources and methods to enable deep penetration of adversaries," the briefing states.
New "clandestine technical capabilities," greater emphasis on counterterrorism covert action and "close target access," and new modes and methods for covert operations are urged. Classified charts in the briefing go into greater detail, the DSB source said.
To bolster government HUMINT capabilities, the task force advances the idea of an intelligence "surge/unsurge" capability -- a "robust, global cadre of retirees, reservists and others who are trained and qualified to serve on short notice, including expatriates." This group could be pressed into service during times of crisis.
The task force urges the government to "make investments now" in this area, keeping the surge cadre up to speed through gaming exercises at least annually.
It also recommends keeping the focus on so-called "tier 4" countries where counterterrorism operations may be necessary. "Contracted roles" for industry, university and think tank personnel should also be mulled. Specialists in several areas, including special operations, languages and personnel recovery, should be sought out.
DOD and Congress would have to work out the details of how reservists and others could be called up and then released during "unsurge" periods, the briefing states.
Together, the HUMINT and surge cadre recommendations carry a price tag of $1.8 billion per year beginning in fiscal year 2004, the briefing states.
Broader intelligence changes recommended by the task force include a "new and larger analytic workforce with skills and innovative tools focused on counterterrorism."
The briefing also urges greatly improved customer access to intel data. One way to do this, it suggests, is through the formation of a DOD-CIA group tasked to define a path to achieve a "truly joint, interoperable CT common operating picture."
"Converge large e-gov programs currently under way in SIGINT and IMINT for improved customer access to intelligence data," it adds. "Pursue an integrated family of 'small terminal programs' for field/small-unit access to intelligence data (data, imagery, etc.) -- smart push and pull."
An intelligence analyst who has reviewed the study briefing told ITP it advocates "intelligence reform on every level -- organizational, doctrinal, technological.
"I was wondering who, if anyone, was out there trying to think innovative thoughts about intelligence," he added. "It didn't seem to be CIA or Congress. I guess the answer is -- DSB."
Finding terrorists' weapons of mass destruction is another thorny problem the task force says could be addressed through greater intelligence capabilities and more proactive methods of "finding the enemy." Pervasive and persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- from space, aircraft and other sensors, including a number of new technologies advocated by the task force -- is key, as is more centralized planning and coordination of architectures, the briefing states.
The development of a persistent ISR network carries a price tag of $1.6 billion over the next six years, according to the DSB.
While DOD has instituted a system of civil support teams in 32 states, more are needed; the panel believes a significant expansion of counter-WMD efforts is necessary. Its briefing calls for a greatly expanded National Guard and reserve role, improved training and equipment to further its goal of a robust counter-WMD consequence management capability.
The DSB also advocates a new WMD "red team" dedicated to planning -- "as terrorists might" -- ways to attack the U.S. homeland or targets overseas. Counter-WMD efforts advocated by the task force could cost $1.5 billion per year.
SOF and 'SOF-like' The "guts" of the task force briefing, according to a member, is its section on special operations forces. The study advocates overhauling current relationships between special ops and conventional forces by suggesting an "SOF-centric" approach to certain scenarios.
While special ops forces support conventional warfighting units today, the task force says the military should prepare them "to be the supported command in at least some phases of future campaigns." As part of this push, the Pentagon should enhance the "robustness" of its theater special ops commands and joint special ops task force headquarters and expand exercises and training with conventional forces, the briefing states.
The Washington Post reported Sept. 18 that DOD would begin to give U.S. Special Operations Command control over war on terror operations, making it the supported command in certain cases.
SOF capabilities should also be brought to bear to a greater degree in preparing the battlefield, the DSB adds: "Focus SOF worldwide day-to-day presence to exploit human and geographic access in potential crisis locations" and "exploit SOF's inherent intelligence collection capabilities."
These efforts would require only a "modest" increase in SOF personnel -- about 2 percent per year. A "substantial increase in equipage," however, would be needed in such areas as blue-force tracking, sensor emplacement, common operating picture efforts, communications and "special mission aircraft, maritime and ground mobility."
These upgrades would cost "billions" of dollars, the briefing adds.
While special ops forces wouldn't need significantly more personnel, the task force does believe the military overall needs "far more people" in this area, which it could get "by augmenting with non-SOF" forces, the DSB official told ITP.
"Improve selected conventional capabilities to support SOF-centric operations," the briefing states. "Accelerate development and fielding of specialized capabilities" -- including remote fires and aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- "in selected conventional forces.
"Have conventional forces with requisite capabilities assume missions currently being performed by SOF," it concludes.
Among the candidates for greater "SOF-like" capabilities are the Army's 82nd and 101st airborne divisions, the DSB official said.
Special ops forces and planning should also be coordinated better with allies. SOF represents "one of few areas where allies can be near-peer partners," the briefing states.
Nearly all of the task force's recommendations could be put to the test through extensive joint experimentation and training. To that end, the briefing recommends the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff "formally and visibly recognize JFCOM's new focus."
JFCOM will be key to the development and fielding of more adaptive and capable joint C4, help ensure jointness and interoperability at all levels, and turn lessons learned into real change. The latter goal could be served by making the Joint Center for Lessons Learned subordinate to JFCOM, the briefing states.
JFCOM was recently named the DOD executive agent for joint urban operations. This move is applauded by the task force, which also urges better military operations in urban terrain training and improvements in technologies that will help U.S. forces fight in cities -- the "most likely terrorism environment and the one for which we are least prepared," the briefing states.
To fulfill the new responsibilities recommended by the task force, JFCOM should be given appropriate resources and control over them, it adds, calling for $300 million a year over the next six years to "create infrastructure to enable new capabilities in urban operations" and provide JFCOM what it needs as executive agent.
Going beyond the language of the briefing charts, the DSB official said the command needs a "complete change" and a "more focused role" to better aid the United States in its global war on terror. -- Daniel G. Dupont