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Rumsfeld Stands Tall After Iraq Victory

Also, Rumsfeld tapped for the first time a Marine, Gen. James L. Jones, to become the chief of the U.S. European Command, traditionally an Army stronghold. Jones had been in office only a few weeks this year when he began to shake up the theater -- and some longtime allies -- by talking about radically reducing the U.S. presence in Germany and moving troops eastward to new bases in former Warsaw Pact nations.

The third personnel move may be most significant of all. Last month, Rumsfeld sent one of his closest aides, Stephen Cambone, to the new position of under secretary of defense for intelligence, created to have a single office overseeing the organization, planning and execution of military intelligence missions.

Cambone's new position also oversees assets that used to belong elsewhere, most notably a secret intelligence organization that specializes in large-scale "deep penetration" missions in foreign countries, especially tapping communications and laying the groundwork for overt military operations. This organization, code-named "Gray Fox," now effectively reports to the office of the secretary of defense.

Asked about the transfer of control of Gray Fox, Cambone said, "We won't talk about those things."

Another insider familiar with intelligence matters said that from where he sits, it appears that "Rumsfeld is in a death fight with DCI (the director of Central Intelligence) to get control" of intelligence assets -- and so far is winning.

Energizing Special Operations

When President Bush spoke Wednesday in St. Louis on the meaning of the war in Iraq, he singled out only part of the U.S. military for the role it played: The Special Operation Command -- that is, the Green Berets, Delta Force, Navy SEALs and other units that specialize in unconventional warfare, such as operating behind enemy lines and working with local guerrillas.

Rumsfeld is credited for making that happen. Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the commander in the war, "wouldn't have used Special Operations like he did in Iraq if Rumsfeld hadn't pushed him," said Robert Andrews, who was the top Pentagon official overseeing the Special Operations Command until the middle of last year.

The Iraq war was one of the biggest Special Operations missions ever, with a thousand Delta Force members and Rangers in the west and another thousand Special Forces troops in the north and south. In almost every aspect, the missions broke new ground: Some units "staged" into Iraq through former Soviet bloc member Bulgaria. In northern Iraq, conventional Army paratroopers and tank units were put under the command of a Special Operations general. In the south, meanwhile, some Special Operations troops were put under the command of regular Army generals.

Those novel arrangements reflect Rumsfeld's push to break down barriers between parts of the military and make them all work more aggressively. "I think what you are seeing is their potential being exploited," said Cambone, one of the Pentagon officials closest to Rumsfeld. "Things are possible today that weren't before."

Special Operators have the Hollywood image of macho warriors who go into battle with a hunting knife clenched in their teeth, but in practice Rumsfeld found the command agonizingly cautious, constantly worried about rules and safety, Pentagon insiders say.

Reflecting that frustration, Rumsfeld's office commissioned a secret study to determine why the Special Operations community seemed so resistant to his urgings that it do more to attack al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The classified study, by Richard Shultz, a Tufts University expert on unconventional war, concluded that a major part of the problem was a culture of "risk aversion" that made these elite troops, as one person put it, a "Ferrari that was never taken out of the garage."

Determined to make Special Operations more effective and lethal, Rumsfeld is in the process of picking a new chief for it. Pentagon insiders say Rumsfeld's office is looking at three lieutenant generals -- the Air Force's Norton A. Schwartz, the Army's Bryan D. Brown, the Marines' Emil R. Bedard -- but in a radical departure also is considering some younger two-star generals who have played prominent roles on the front lines over the past two years.

Whomever he chooses, the consensus view is that Special Operations was the big bureaucratic winner in the Iraq war. Pentagon officials said it is going to be showered with more people, more weapons, more aircraft -- and more missions.

In fact, some Special Operations officers worry that Rumsfeld's largesse may prove to be a mixed blessing. They think that he may overtax a small force that already is strained.

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