Panel to Look at Force Protection Lessons Learned from Cole
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2000 A DoD panel will examine the terrorist attack against the destroyer USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, to see what commanders can do to prevent such attacks, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said Oct. 19.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has appointed retired Army Gen. William Crouch and Adm. Harold Gehman to co-chair the panel. The Cole Commission will develop a lessons learned report.
Bacon said the effort will take a couple of months, "but we want this out as soon as possible so we can start using the information."
Crouch was the commander of U.S. Army, Europe and the commander of the NATO Implementation Force in Bosnia. Bacon said his experiences in force protection for troops in Bosnia should help him in his panel work. Gehman, who will retire from the Navy Nov. 1, was commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command. He has extensive surface warfare experience and served on and commanded destroyers.
The Cole panel is in addition to the Navy's Judge Advocate General Manual investigation. The JAG Manual investigation looks at the operations aboard the ship before the attack to ensure all Navy procedures were followed.
The Cole Commission is much broader than the Navy JAG Manual investigation, Bacon said. Panelists are to look at Navy guidance, U.S. Central Command rules, intelligence reports and other factors before compiling their report. The panel will not look for culpability, but rather solely at force protection and ways the United States can improve force protection.
FBI Director Louis Freeh was in Aden meeting with Yemeni and U.S. officials. He said he was pleased with the cooperation the FBI team has received from the Yemenis. He said they had located several locations that may be relevant to the case.
"They found those locations on their own with very, very good police work," Freeh said during a press conference. "They've shared the results of that with us." He said recovery of evidence on the Cole proceeds, but it's too early to say with any certainty who sponsored or launched the attack.
"We have some theories, as you almost have to have when you begin an investigation of this kind, but the determination with respect to participation, sponsorship, if any, will be strictly delegated by the facts, by the forensics, witnesses that are developed, linkages to other places or persons," Freeh said. "But we are very, very far from doing that and are really looking at this with a very open mind at this point.
Bacon said U.S. commitment to the Central Command region will remain strong. "We had the embassy bombings in Africa, we didn't close our embassies," Bacon said. "We had threats in Saudi Arabia, we didn't stop our commitments there.
"But, right now, we're concerned with recovering the remains, stabilizing the ship and moving forward with FBI investigations."