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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 08:47 GMT 09:47 UK
US 'approves war on terror plans'
US special forces
Special forces have been widely deployed since 2001
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has approved plans to give the Pentagon greater leeway to deploy special forces around the world, a US report says.

According to the Washington Post, teams of special forces have been sent to 20 countries to carry out operational planning and intelligence gathering.

Mr Rumsfeld has long insisted that the US military needs a fundamental revamp to fight modern anti-terror campaigns.

The Pentagon refused to comment on the report, which quoted unnamed officials.

According to the Washington Post, US forces overseas now face fewer obstacles before beginning military operations in a foreign country.

Requirements for the US ambassador to give permission for special forces operations have been waived, the Post reports. Envoys now need only to be informed of planned military action.

The officials also suggested that the Pentagon has drawn up a list of likely targets around the world for retaliation in the event of a terror attack on the US.

'Three plans'

The Pentagon has announced a shift in its approach to the war on terror in recent months, rebranding the conflict as a "long war" akin to the decades-long struggle between the US and the Soviet Union.

[The plan] details what terrorists or bad guys we would hit if the gloves come off
US defence official

In its report, the Washington Post suggests that the approval and implementation of the new campaign plan, as well as two subordinate plans, have been the Pentagon's highest priority.

Together, they amount to an assignment of responsibilities to different military commands to conduct a "long war" against terrorism, the paper reports.

Defence officials revealed the apparent contents of the three plans:

  • The main plan sets goals for the US in the ongoing war on terror, and divides responsibilities between regional commands

  • A second plan focuses on al-Qaeda and similar Islamist militant movements around the world

  • The final plan details possible military responses to a major terror strike against the US

One US official quoted in the Washington Post said the list of possible targets detailed "what terrorists or bad guys we would hit if the gloves came off".

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