Waste of money and resources
Those Berets do not give them a cloak of
invisibility or the power to fly.
Elite Troops Get Expanded Role on Intelligence
By THOM SHANKER and SCOTT SHANE
WASHINGTON, March 7 — 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 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."
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."
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."
Rumsfeld want to control most intelligence, giving the CIA as little say as possible.
The only problem: SOC personnel should be in the field, not playing spy. There is DIA and CIA paramilitaries who can do this.
So what happens when one of Rummy's special ops fails? Who cleans up then? CIA? Once you get into this business, it can get messy. SOC may not know or consider if CIA has assets, what kind of NOC's the CIA has in the region.
Soldiers do many thing well, but they have spies for a reason. There are already problems with SOC groups acting up around the world and leaving the embassy to clean up. One team killed a man in Latin America. This just makes it worse. The deeper they get, the more likely a fatal mistake will be made.
posted by Steve @ 1:03:00 AM