Pentagon plan for global anti-terror army
August 11, 2004 - 2:35PM
The Pentagon has urged Congress to authorise a $700 million package
designed to build a global anti-terrorist network of friendly militias.
Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a key architect of the Iraq
war, told the House Armed Services Committee the money would be used
"for training and equipping local security forces - not just armies - to
counter terrorism and insurgencies".
If approved as part of a larger defence bill, the package would "provide
greater internal security in areas that are or could become sanctuaries
for terrorists," he said.
No specific beneficiaries of the program were named, but US officials
have repeatedly expressed concern about vast tracts of land along the
Afghan-Pakistani border, in Iraq, the Caucasus, the Horn of Africa and
various islands in the Philippines, where radical Islamic fighters could
set up shop.
The strategy has already been used in Afghanistan, where US special
forces managed to forge alliances with local warlords, who became
instrumental in bringing down the Taliban government in 2001 and keeping
its remnants at bay.
"Indeed, our most important allies in the war on terrorism will be
Muslims who seek freedom and oppose extremism," Wolfowitz stated.
The request comes amid a concerted push by top Defence Department and
other administration officials to develop new forms of "asymmetrical"
warfare that would be more effective against small terrorist cells.
The "new" warfare would also spare the United States the need to deploy
large contingents of its own forces around the world.
Addressing the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations last week, Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke of the need for the Pentagon to adjust
to the new reality in which it does not have to confront big foreign
armies, navies and air forces it was originally trained to fight.
"There are not a lot of them around at the moment," the secretary
pointed out. "And we've got manhunts going on."
To help establish contact with local chieftains, the Pentagon is
considering hiring immigrants to serve as "bicultural advisers" in
unfamiliar areas of the world and implementing a number of economic aid
projects there, according to defence officials.