Monday, April 24, 2006

At Long Last, a Plan for the War on Terror

Ann Scott Tyson of The Washington Post reported that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved a comprehensive plan to fight the war on terror. About time, huh?
The long-awaited campaign plan for the global war on terrorism, as well as two subordinate plans also approved within the past month by Rumsfeld, are considered the Pentagon's highest priority, according to officials familiar with the three documents who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about them publicly.

Two things. First, if memory serves me correctly, we've been in a war on terror for almost five years now. If coming up with a plan to fight it has really been the Pentagon's "highest priority," I'd hate to see what happens with stuff they keep on the back burner these days.

Second, I wonder who authorized the anonymous officials not to speak about the plans publicly. How much longer are we going to play this "official/unofficial leak" patty cake?

The program is secret, of course, which is no doubt why it had to be leaked.


The plans involve stepped up use of Special Forces. General Doug Brown, head of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), began working on the plans in 2003 when Rumsfeld first designated SOCOM as the "lead command for the war on terrorism."

Author Tyson doesn't speculate on why Rumsfeld waited until 2003 to name a lead command to fight terror and start putting together a plan to fight it. One would imagine he was too busy getting ready to invade Iraq to think about fighting terror.

One of the main reasons it took three years after that to finish the plans was tension inside the military as well as with the CIA and the State Department over who's in charge of special force counterterrorism teams within any given theater of operations. They don't appear to have to answer to U.S. embassies, or even, in some circumstances, to four-star regional commanders.

I smell trouble brewing.

One of the most important principles of military operations of any kind is "unity of command." There must be a clear line of authority that extends from the private infantry soldier to the regional commander to the Secretary of Defense to the President. Any time you have an "elite" outfit careening around in a regional commanders' area of responsibility that the regional commander doesn't have control of, bad stuff happens.

But if bad stuff happens under this plan, we probably won't know about it because it's secret, and nobody gets authorized speak publicly about bad secret stuff. Only the good secret stuff gets leaked.


You don't need to read the secret war on terror plans to figure out they're exactly what Rummy wanted them to be. That's pretty much how everything has been in the Department of Defense since early 2001. There's no reason to think this Rummy plan will work any better than any other Rummy plan.

Why should we be concerned? Because the DoD took six years to institutionalize a plan for fighting the war on terror, one that comes straight out of the box with built in warning flags. If it doesn't work, we won't know about if for at least another two and a half years because Rummy doesn't recognize any idea of his isn't working, and Lord knows that at this point that nobody's going to blow any whistles, and even if they do, it won't do any good because Rummy is bulletproof and he's not going anywhere as long as his boss is still in office.

Come 2008, we'll have been fighting a war for seven and a half years with no good plan for fighting it, and somebody will have to come up with a better plan, and who knows how long that might take?


  1. The Clap LOUDER! Plan -- gotta love it.

    I predict the new secret plan will be identical to the old one, only maybe with a few more BOOMS and pulse-pounding night-vision hand-cam raids footage (y'know, looks like an Xbox game, or an episode of 24).

  2. Realilty TV without the TV.