Abercrombie asks Pentagon to explain homeland plan
By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who is raising questions about a new military Northern Command responsible for homeland defense, has added an amendment to the fiscal 2003 Defense Authorization Bill requiring the Pentagon to better explain the plan.
The House Armed Services Committee passed the amendment yesterday, and it will be part of the defense bill when it heads to the House floor, possibly next week.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last month unveiled a plan that creates a U.S. Northern Command with the mission of defending the United States and providing coordinated military assistance to civil authorities such as the FBI and local governments in the event of future attacks or natural disaster.
In an April 17 letter to Arizona Republican Rep. Bob Stump, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, and Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina raised "serious concern" about the establishment of the Northern Command.
"Before the Department of Defense creates this new combatant command, we must hold hearings to determine the scope, mission, and command relationships envisioned for this organization," the letter states.
U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, recently raised concern about the plan, saying the U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith could possibly lose operational control of some West Coast Navy and Marine forces.