Inside the Ring

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - Bill Gertz Rowan Scar­bor­ough

China de­fense bud­get

The Pen­tagon has had two rounds of dis­cus­sions with the Chi­nese mil­i­tary on the de­fense bud­get process, with the United States ex­plain­ing in de­tail how its mil­i­tary spend­ing works and China re­veal­ing very lit­tle about its se­cret mil­i­tary bud­get.

Chi­nese mil­i­tary of­fi­cials met Pen­tagon of­fi­cials in June and pro­vided a very lim­ited ex­pla­na­tion of the process Bei­jing uses to sup­port its weapons and forces.

“We’re try­ing very hard to get an ex­change of ex­perts on the bud­get­ing process so that we can un­der­stand how they cre­ate their bud­gets, since this is an area where we have a very large dis­agree­ment with them,” a se­nior de­fense of­fi­cial said.

China is en­gaged in a ma­jor mil­i­tary buildup but will not dis­close the amounts or sys­tems it is build­ing. The bud­get se­crecy, among other fac­tors, has prompted the Pen­tagon to start a ma­jor force buildup in the Pa­cific as a “hedge” against China emerg­ing as a threat.

U.S. of­fi­cials trav­eled to China in De­cem­ber to ex­plain how U.S. bud­gets are cre­ated, in­clud­ing de­tails such as line items for life-cy­cle costs of weapons sys­tems or costs for bases.

The Chi­nese did not re­cip­ro­cate and in June pro­vided “a lesser level of de­tail” on its bud­get, the of­fi­cial said. “But at least it was the be­gin­ning of a dis­cus­sion about how the two bud­get pro­cesses are fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent,” the of­fi­cial said.

The Chi­nese did not ex­plain how much it costs them to build a Rus­sian-de­signed Su-27 bomber and lim­ited the brief­ing to prin­ci­ples they use to guide bud­get­ing, a sec­ond of­fi­cial said.

China does not in­clude its for­eign arms pur­chases, which in re­cent years have in­cluded bil­lions worth of Rus­sian, Euro­pean and Is­raeli weapons. It also does not in­clude bud­get costs for its space pro­gram, which the mil­i­tary runs, or fund­ing for nu­mer­ous re­search in­sti­tutes that make mil­i­tary satel­lites, an­other costly pro­cure­ment item, the se­nior of­fi­cial said.

“We are right now at that very process level with them,” the of­fi­cial said. “We don’t know if they’re go­ing to be will­ing to en­gage us at the next level but we’re go­ing to try.”

Chi­nese of­fi­cials com­plained last year that the Pen­tagon ex­ag­ger­ated Bei­jing’s mil­i­tary spend­ing in the an­nual re­port to Congress.

The latest re­port states that Chi­nese mil­i­tary spend­ing is so se­cret that Pen­tagon es­ti­mates are off by 20 per­cent to 180 per­cent of what the Chi­nese are ac­tu­ally spend­ing.

China claims its latest an­nual de­fense bud­get, which has been grow­ing by dou­ble-digit per­cent­ages over the past decade, is about $35 bil­lion. The Pen­tagon es­ti­mates it is $105 bil­lion or more.

Chi­nese of­fi­cials in­sist the Pen­tagon is over­es­ti­mat­ing de­fense costs. But some Pen­tagon of­fi­cials said the Chi­nese bud­get talks are part of a Bei­jing de­cep­tion pro­gram aimed at min­i­miz­ing the ag­gres­sive arms buildup.

So­ma­lia war clouds

A for­mer mil­i­tary spe­cial­ist with close ties to the Horn of Africa tells us the sit­u­a­tion in So­ma­lia is get­ting worse af­ter the rise of the ter­ror­istlinked Is­lamic Courts Union (ICU). The ICU ear­lier this year took over ma­jor por­tions of the coun­try and is seek­ing to im­pose Is­lamist rule.

The op­po­si­tion So­mali gov­ern­ment in Baidoa is said to be in dan­ger of be­ing de­feated in the next few weeks.

The U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand and the Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Com­mand are closely watch­ing the coun­try but so far have not been tak­ing ma­jor ac­tion to pre­vent the cre­ation of a new ter­ror­ist base in So­ma­lia.

Ac­cord­ing to the for­mer mil­i­tary of­fi­cial, there are six se­nior al Qaeda op­er­a­tives in So­ma­lia work­ing with the ICU. Ad­di­tion­ally, Ira­nian-backed Hezbol­lah ter­ror­ists are in the coun­try, also back­ing the ICU. Ira­ni­ans are said to be in So­ma­lia as well, eye­ing a large ura­nium ore de­posit in the south.

The gov­ern­ment in Baidoa is be­ing backed by thou­sands of Ethiopian troops now in So­ma­lia. U.S. sup­port should be pro­vided, in­clud­ing weapons, ad­vice and “a bit of intelligence,” the source says.

Global Strate­gies Group, a private se­cu­rity firm, last week sent a warn­ing no­tice to non­govern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions that op­pos­ing forces in So­ma­lia are get­ting ready for con­flict and that “the sit­u­a­tion is very tense.”

Talks in Khartoum be­tween fac­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives broke down Nov. 2, and the ICU is de­mand­ing that all Ethiopian troops leave So­ma­lia.

“It is as­sessed that if con­flict does erupt, it will be with lit­tle or no no­tice and will quickly spread to other ar­eas,” ac­cord­ing to the no­tice.

Abizaid’s as­sess­ment

Army Gen. John Abizaid, the man in charge of the bulk of fight­ing in the war on Is­lamic ex­trem­ists, sat down with de­fense re­porters re­cently to size up the con­flict. A few salient points:

“I be­lieve that our strat­egy for the area can’t be to con­trol it. No na­tion on Earth has ever con­trolled the Mid­dle East. As a mat­ter of fact if you try to con­trol the Mid­dle East, you’ll rapidly find out that the Mid­dle East is go­ing to con­trol you.”

“We need to build ca­pac­ity, lo­cal ca­pac­ity, to do the in­sti­tu­tion build­ing to make so­ci­eties that are go­ing to be more re­silient against the broader ex­trem­ist trends in the area. The ex­trem­ism is not main­stream. In many ways we’re kind of at a point where we could have been if we de­cided to re­sist Fas­cism in the ‘20s or Bol­she­vism in the 1900s.”

“The prob­lem is, you know, a lot of [peo­ple] have a hard time un­der­stand­ing why it’s to our ad­van­tage to be out there in the mid­dle of this. And it’s to our ad­van­tage so that th­ese ter­ri­ble ide­o­log­i­cal move­ments do not be­come main­stream and start mov­ing us in a di­rec­tion that can move to­ward World War III.”

Guide­book

The Army’s Com­bined Arms Cen­ter at Fort Leav­en­worth, Kan., is putting the fin­ish­ing brush work on a new coun­terin­sur­gency man­ual. But there is no time for rest.

It is be­gin­ning work on a more far-reach­ing field guide that will de­scribe how to con­duct full-spec­trum op­er­a­tions. One change: Post­war sta­bil­ity op­er­a­tions will be wo­ven into war plans. It’s a lesson­slearned from Afghanistan and Iraq, where the im­por­tance of re­build­ing was driven home. A new Pen­tagon di­rec­tive puts the chore on a par with the fight­ing it­self.

As the Army sees it, a brigade com­bat team can be fight­ing to se­cure a town in one sec­tor while other brigade sol­diers are start­ing sta­bil­ity op­er­a­tions in a nearby town.

The doc­trine is known as FM-30, or field man­ual-3, last up­dated in June 2001, a few months be­fore the Septem­ber 11 at­tacks. Chap­ters in­clude “the Army and the Role of Land­Power”and“Con­duct­ingFull Spec­trum Op­er­a­tions.”

Bill Gertz and Rowan Scar­bor­ough are Pen­tagon re­porters. Mr. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at bgertz@wash­ing­ton­times.com. Mr. Scar­bor­ough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at rscar­bor­ough@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

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