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Joint Chiefs nominee calls for interagency cooperation

Marine Gen. Peter Pace told the Senate Armed Services Committee that DoD must increase intelligence capabilities and work better with other federal agencies as the country confronts asymmetrical threats.

Pace, President Bush's nominee to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the conventional capability of the United States is "untouchable" and must be maintained.

Pace currently heads U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

He said although U.S. officials knew that enemies would not likely attack the United States with conventional forces, "we obviously have not been able to understand the type of attack that would occur, like it did, nor to be properly positioned to defeat it."

He said now that the reality of the Sept. 11 attacks have sunk in, the U.S. military must work on how to prevent terrorist attacks in the future and how to disassemble the terrorist organizations. He said the United States must increase intelligence capability, whether for a combatant commander or in support of organizations like the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

"We must have the eyes and ears, both forward-deployed and at home, to understand the environment in which we're working, and to understand the networks against which we are going to proceed," he said. The United States is also going to need "an interagency approach" when implementing presidential decisions.

"I think our system of deputies committee meetings, principals committees meetings, National Security Council meetings are very, very good at teeing up for the president the decisions that he makes," he said. But the execution side of the decisions, he continued, sometimes lack the necessary coordination between departments. He called these "stovepipe approaches."

"What comes to the State Department to do, they do; what comes to the Department of Defense, we do; without enough coordination at the top to ensure that all of our energies are being expended wisely and in synergy," he said. "And I believe that what we're going to need to do, and if confirmed, what I will strive to do as vice chairman, is to bring together the interagency here in Washington in a way that allows us to focus all the energy of this nation."

He said the military obviously would play a part in America's war against terrorist organizations. "There will be bombs dropped," he told the senators. Though purely military things will happen, the government will exert its enormous strength in ways that are outside the realm of DoD.

Nonetheless, DoD must understand how it plays and how it can support, Pace said. "A mechanism to make all that work smoothly and efficiently is going to be needed," he added.

The committee favorably reported on Pace's nomination. No date has been set yet for a confirmation vote in the full Senate.