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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, November 12, 2001

CincPac terrorism plan result of expertise

The praise being heaped on an anti-terrorism plan developed by Adm. Dennis Blair and his staff at the Pacific Command helps make the argument in favor of keeping this huge, geographically based command in place.

As the Defense Department restructures itself, there has been talk of converting from the traditional regionally based commands (Pacific Command, Southern Command, etc.) to one that is organized around functional lines or specific duties.

That may make some sense. But what could be lost is the precise sense of area specialization that helped Blair and his people come up with a plan that is tailored to the needs and possibilities and political/diplomatic sensitivities of the region.

For instance, it quite correctly suggests that the best approach in predominantly Muslim nations such as Indonesia or Malaysia would be nonmilitiary action, combined with a heightened level of intelligence sharing.

In the Philippines, there would be an emphasis on hostage rescue.

Sophisticated plans of this nature cannot be produced by boilerplate, one-size-fits-all templates. They must be built piece-by-piece by experts deeply immersed in the region.

An article on this page by Satu Limaye of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, a federal institution that works with the Pacific Command, amplifies this point. Writing specifically about Islam, Limaye argues that a deep understanding of Islam and Islamic politics in Asia will create a nuanced, appropriate policy for the United States within the region.

The work done by the Asia-Pacific Center and the expertise developed at Camp Smith make this possible. It makes sense to keep it in place.