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Elite U.S. Troops Expand Role
Australian Associated Press  |  March 08, 2006
Small teams of special operations troops are reportedly being placed in a growing number of American embassies in unstable parts of the world to gather intelligence on terrorists.

The elite troops, known as "Military Liaison Elements", also plan potential missions to "disrupt, capture or kill" the terrorists, said a report on the New York Times website.

Citing senior Pentagon officials and military officers as sources, the Times said the effort is part of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "two-year" bid to give the military a greater intelligence role in the war on terrorism.

The paper said, however, the effort "has drawn opposition from traditional intelligence agencies" like the CIA.

It said that small groups of the special operations personnel have been sent to more than a dozen embassies in South-East Asia, Africa and South America, where terrorists are thought to be operating, planning attacks, raising money or seeking safe haven.

The forces gather information to help plan counterterrorism missions, and help local militaries conduct counterterrorism missions, officials told the Times.

The special operations command reports to Rumsfeld and falls outside the orbit controlled by John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, the newspaper said.

The teams may not arrive without the approval of the local ambassador, and the soldiers are based in embassies and are trained to avoid mishaps with local citizens.

The forces include the Army Green Berets and Rangers, the Navy Seals, the Marines and special Air Force crews that carry out the most specialized or secret missions. Their skills range from quick strikes to long-range reconnaissance in hostile territory, military training and medical care, the Times said.

But the creation of these forces "appear to have exacerbated the disorganization, even distrust, that critics in Congress and the academic world have said permeates the government's counterterrorism efforts", the Times said.

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Copyright 2016 Australian Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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