DOD creates new counterterrorism panel

Senior Pentagon officials have created a new panel in charge of integrating Defense Department activities that could aid the military in fighting terrorism worldwide, Pentagon sources told Federal Computer Week.

The group, dubbed the Combating Terrorism Coordination Council, is headed by Joint Staff Director Army Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp and Ryan Henry, principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for policy, sources say.

Members of the influential Deputy’s Advisory Working Group, headed by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, approved the creation of the council a few months ago, Pentagon insiders said. The panel has met a handful of times since then, according to those sources. A formal charter for the group is still under development, they said.

The council’s task is to integrate a number of counterterrorism-related DOD initiatives that so far have operated independently of one another. These initiatives are: improving the military’s ability to conduct stability, reconstruction and counterinsurgency operations;  building up foreign security forces; developing irregular warfare skills and doctrine; and other activities under the Bush administration’s global war on terrorism label, several sources said.

Council members will work with officials at the National Counterterrorism Center, using that venue to escalate issues as needed, according to an organizational diagram for the panel FCW reviewed.

One Pentagon official said the new group could shift the profile of counterterrorism operations in the Defense Department from a domain reserved for special operations forces to one of interest to the military as a whole.

In 2004, President Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld designated U.S. Special Operations Command as the lead organization for combating terrorist networks.

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