The Department of Defense announced today new measures to
protect military forces from terrorist attacks. "To begin with,
as we decide where and how to deploy our forces overseas, we will
place the threat of terrorism front and center," Defense
Secretary William J. Perry said in a letter to President Clinton.
The changes include the issuance of a new DoD-wide directive
on force protection and the appointment of the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff as the focal point for force protection.
"The Department's actions make force protection an integral part
of mission accomplishment," Deputy Secretary John P. White
announced at a Pentagon news conference.
Gen. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and
retired Gen. Wayne Downing also participated in the news
On June 25, 1995, 19 U.S. airmen were killed by a truck bomb
outside the Khobar Towers housing facility in Dhahran, Saudi
Arabia. Secretary Perry appointed Gen. Downing, former
Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, to assess the
circumstances surrounding the bombing and to recommend
improvements in force protection. The findings and
recommendations of the Downing Task Force Assessment of U.S.
Central Command and the Khobar Towers bombing reaffirm major
changes already underway in the department's approach to force
The Downing Assessment was attached to a report Dr. Perry
sent to the President and Congress entitled "The Protection of
U.S. Forces Deployed Abroad." In his report, Perry laid out
numerous force protection measures DoD has taken, both before and
after the Khobar Towers attack.
"The attack on Khobar Towers should be seen as a watershed
event pointing the way to a radically new mind-set and dramatic
changes in the way we protect our forces deployed overseas," Dr.
Perry said in his report.
Immediately following the attack, Perry ordered a
fundamental re-evaluation of U.S. force posture in the Arabian
Gulf Region which led to a major realignment of forces. Deployed
forces in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Gulf region
began relocating from urban areas to more isolated locations that
were easier to protect. At the DoD's request, the Department of
State implemented an "authorized departure" of all U.S.
Government dependents from Saudi Arabia and DoD withdrew command
sponsorship for dependents of most permanently assigned military
members, which had the practical effect of an orderly, mandatory
Perry also directed the commanders of all Unified Commands
to look at force protection in their areas of responsibility and
report back to him on how best to deal with the rapidly
escalating threat to U.S. forces. Their ideas and
recommendations have been incorporated in the force protection
initiative the department is undertaking.
White said Downing provided exactly what DoD asked for: a
tough, hard-hitting look at the Khobar Towers bombing, and a
broad a broad assessment of force protection measures throughout
the Central Command area of responsibility. The department has
taken the following actions in response to the principal
Revised the principal DoD directive dealing with combating
terrorism to provide an improved, single standard on force
Designated the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the
principal advisor and the single DoD-wide focal point for force
Gave designated local commanders increased responsibility
and authority for force protection.
Realigned force protection responsibilities in Southwest
Asia between the Department of Defense and the Department of
Initiated efforts to improve the collection and timely
dissemination of intelligence on threats to U.S. forces
Established a new division of responsibility on force
protection matters between the United States and host nation
Raised the funding level and priority for force protection
and increased efforts to harness advanced technology to the force
In addition, Perry asked the Secretary of the Air Force to
examine disciplinary and other issues raised in the report
concerning how the Air Force supports forces deployed to
Secretary Perry concluded in his report that "terrorists
cannot win unless we let them." In a letter to the President
accompanying the report he stated his confidence that as these
new initiatives are implemented, they will minimize risks and
keep the U.S. military fully engaged in defending U.S. interests
around the world.