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US’ military attitude still rooted in Cold War: Gates

Last Updated: Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 10:03

Washington: The attitude of the US military is still rooted in the cold war era of the 20th century and it has not been able to adopt itself to the evolving domestic internal threat, Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said.
"It is clear that as a department, we have not done enough to adapt to the evolving domestic internal security threat to American troops and military facilities that has emerged over the past decade," Gates told reporters at a Pentagon news conference on the findings of the Fort Hood shooting inquiry.

The inquiry was ordered after the US Army Major Nidal Hasan Malik, an Army doctor with extremist views, went on rampage and killed as many as 13 Army personnel at Fort Hood in Texas last year.

The report was submitted to the Defence Secretary this week.

Among the report`s conclusions are the military does not do enough to detect an enemy from within or to share information from one command to another.

Also, the military must change its culture to ward off future threats, said the report co-written by former Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark and former Army Secretary Togo West Jr.

"In this area as in so many others, this department is burdened by 20th-century processes and attitudes mostly rooted in the Cold War. Our counterintelligence procedures are mostly designed to combat an external threat such as a foreign intelligence service," Gates said.

"Likewise, our force-protection procedures are set up to investigate and adjudicate criminal conduct, such as domestic abuse and gang activities.”

In particular, the (Fort Hood) review concluded that DOD (Department of Defence) force-protection programmes are not properly focused on internal threats such as workplace violence and self-radicalisation.

“The problem is compounded in the absence of a clear understanding of what motivates a person to become radicalised and commit violent acts," Gates said.

He said the current definition for prohibited activities is incomplete and does not provide adequate guidance for commanders and supervisors to act on potential threats to security.

Current policies on prohibited activities provide neither the authority nor the tools for commanders and supervisors to intervene when DOD personnel at risk of personal – of potential violence make contact or establish relationships with persons or entities that promote self-radicalisation.

"We need to refine our understanding of what these behavioural signals are and how they progress," he said.

"At the same time, there is no well integrated means to gather, evaluate and disseminate the wide range of behavioural indicators that could help our commanders better anticipate an internal threat. Defence personnel-management systems are generally organised to withhold and compartmentalise troubling information about individuals, as opposed to sharing it with the people and leaders who need to know," said the Defence Secretary.

Among other significant findings and recommendations, the report also says there is no senior DOD official responsible for integrating force-protection policies throughout the department.

Individual installations can react to attack, but the department does not have a coherent approach or integrated command-and-control system to deal with internal threats.


First Published: Saturday, January 16, 2010 - 10:03

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