WASHINGTON (AFP) -US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved ambitious plans to fight terrorism around the world and retaliate more rapidly in the case of another terrorist attack on the United States, The Washington Post reports.
Citing unnamed defense officials, the newspaper said the blueprint includes a general campaign plan for the global war on terrorism as well as two subordinate plans that are considered the Pentagon’s highest priority.
Details of the plans are secret, but in general they envision a significantly expanded role for the military and its Special Operations troops in operations to combat terrorism outside of war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, the report said.
Developed over about three years by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in Tampa, the plans reflect a beefing up of the Pentagon’s involvement in domains traditionally handled by the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department, The Post said.
The command has dispatched small teams of Army Green Berets and other Special Operations troops to US embassies in about 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America, where they do operational planning and intelligence gathering to enhance the ability to conduct military operations where the United States is not at war, the paper said.
The Pentagon also gained the leeway to inform — rather than win the approval of — the US ambassador before conducting military operations in a foreign country, according to the report.
The plans each run more than 100 pages and cover a wide range of overt and clandestine military activities — such as man-hunting and intelligence gathering, attacks on terrorist training camps and partnering with foreign militaries to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries, The Post said.
The main campaign plan sets priorities, allocates resources such as manpower and funding, and coordinates operations among regional military commands, the paper said.
A second plan is focused specifically on Al-Qaeda and associated movements, including more than a dozen groups spread across the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa, according to the report.
These groups include the Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Ansar al-Islam in the Middle East, Jemaah Islamiya in Indonesia, and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in Saharan Africa.
A third plan sets out how the military can both disrupt and respond to another major terrorist strike on the United States, The Post said.
It includes annexes that offer options for the military to retaliate quickly against specific terrorist groups, individuals or state sponsors depending on who is believed to be behind an attack.