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The Army is warning soldiers to watch out for radioactive foreign
military equipment.

“It’s primarily Chinese,” a senior military officer told us. Other
radioactive equipment in Army hands includes stuff “from Third World
countries,” he said.

“Commanders of units that possess foreign military equipment must be
alert for the possibility that such equipment may contain radioactive
material,” the Oct. 22 memorandum states. “Examples follow:

“A. Displayed captured military vehicles have been found to have
dials and gauges that contain radium. In one instance, surveyors found a
foreign military vehicle in a public outdoor display at an Army activity
with a vandalized radium dial that had contaminated the vehicle and the
immediate area.

“B. Captured electronic equipment has been found to have radioactive
tubes and radioactive luminous markings. One device discovered on public
display at an Army museum emitted radiation levels that were well above
those allowed for unrestricted access. In another example, an
intelligence unit unknowingly held a device that contained so much
radioactive material that the unit required a Nuclear Regulatory
Commission license to legally possess it.”

The memorandum said the main dangers of contamination were posed by
gear with radium, strontium-90 and tritium. Tritium is a gas used to
enhance nuclear explosions.

The radioactive gear can be kept if it is denuclearized properly and
after surrounding areas are decontaminated.

Million Marine March

The Marine Corps’ opposition to building an Air Force memorial near
the revered Iwo Jima sculpture has reached a new intensity, perhaps not
felt since Marines planted the flag on that captured Japanese island.
And some top brass don’t like it.

Some Marines are trying to organize a million Marine march on
Washington to protest the government’s pending final site approval. The
Air Force memorial would sit a stone’s throw from Arlington National
Cemetery and within sight of the Iwo shrine.

With a rebellious march gaining momentum within the ranks, retired
Marine Lt. Gen. Charles Cooper has stepped in to try to kill the idea.
Gen. Cooper heads a committee dedicated to “saving” Iwo from the Air
Force invasion. He believes tact requires staying within the normal
hearing process. He is sending messages to colleagues to explain.

“I appreciate you informing me on your various activities,” Gen.
Cooper told one of the organizers. “As chairman of the Iwo Jima
Preservation Committee, allied with the Friends of Iwo Jima and Combat
Veteran of Iwo Jima, I have spent over two years in the uphill battle to
resist the efforts of the Air Force Memorial Foundation to build their
memorial in Iwo Jima Park.

“We have countless irons in the fire and our likelihood of victory
has never been more favorable than at present. I am deeply concerned
that your well-meaning efforts to rally Marines to this cause could
prove to be detrimental. Since learning of your efforts I have consulted
on many fronts and at this time I would like to ask you, from the
vantage point of having led this bitter fight for two years, in complete
harmony with the senior Marine Corps leadership, not to change the
chemistry or create a situation that we and the top echelons of the
Marine Corps cannot support. I simply ask you to trust us in what we are
doing.”

Prueher on hold

Sen. Robert C. Smith yesterday quietly slammed an indefinite “hold”
on the nomination of retired Adm. Joseph Prueher to be the next
ambassador to China. The hold prevents the Senate from voting on the
ambassadorship and could kill it if the Senate recesses without voting.

The nomination seemed almost assured last week after Senate Foreign
Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms told Adm. Prueher’s wife to
“pack” for Beijing.

Now it is in limbo. Mr. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, is opposing
Adm.
Prueher, the former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, because he
views the admiral as too pro-Beijing.

Some in the Pentagon agree. He so upset some officials during his
tour at Pacific Command he was once dubbed the “Panda-hugging Prueher,”
we are told.

Meanwhile, the departure of Mr. Smith from the chairmanship of the
Senate Armed Services subcommittee on strategic forces — a power seat
overseeing both nuclear weapons and missile defenses — has set off a
scramble for the post.

Senate aides say Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican, will assume
the post, leaving his post as chairman of the personnel subcommittee.

Stolen pay

The Defense Intelligence Agency reported recently in a classified
digest sent to top Pentagon officials that Russian troops deployed in
the Caucasus for military operations against Chechnya are struggling to
cope with more than rebel resistance.

The soldiers’ pay is being stolen. According to the report, Russian
draftees in Dagestan, a region next to Chechnya, have not been paid for
weeks.

The reason: Their pay is being stolen by corrupt Russian government
officials before it reaches them. Worse, the soldiers are going without
food and have been forced to rely on humanitarian aid supplied by groups
in the region, the DIA said.

The military operations, under way for more than eight weeks, are a
clear sign “the Chechens are resisting” the Russian military onslaught,
said one intelligence official.

Krulak has landed

The office complex of the MBNA Corp. outside Wilmington, Del., has
the look of a Marine Corps base. The office buildings sparkle in greens
and whites. A tall fence rings snipped lawns and shrubs.

It’s the perfect image for employees who like order and discipline
… someone like Gen. Charles Krulak, who retired this summer after a
35-year career, four as the Marine Corps commandant.

“It’s very much a values-based company,” Gen. Krulak tells us from
the company’s Wilmington corporate headquarters, ticking off the names
of former top government officials who have joined the giant credit
bank.

Gen. Krulak is a senior vice chairman; his bailiwicks are facilities,
ground transportation and internal auditing.

“It’s just a bunch of people who believe that people are important
and values are important,” he says. “You know what I’m like, so it was
a great fit.”

Most of Washington knows what the four-star general was like. As
commandant, he made morality one of his top priorities. He preached the
evils of excessive drinking and extramarital sex, much to the chagrin of
some in the White House.

“Although I might not have been the most popular guy in the
administration, we held our standards,” said the legendary Marine.
“When it came to gender-integrated training versus nonintegrated
training, we stuck with it. When it came to adultery, we stuck with it.”

The Marines are the lone holdout among the four branches in training
men and women separately. Gen. Krulak protested a budding move inside
the Pentagon to decriminalize adultery, right around the time President
Clinton was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.

Asked what he is most proud of as commandant, Gen. Krulak said, “The
fact that the Marines answered the call every time the bell rang and
performed in a superior manner (and) the Marine Corps for 48 straight
months met or exceeded their recruitment goals after having raised their
standards, expanded their boot camp and made it tougher. … We
recognized what the youth of America really want, which is not a handout
but a challenge.”

Navy Secretary Richard Danzig raised some eyebrows at Gen. Krulak’s
change-of-command ceremony. Referring to Gen. Krulak’s wife and her
dedication to the Corps, Mr. Danzig said, “It is the only menage a trois
that the Marine Corps approves of.”

The sexual allusion brought groans from the VIP crowd. A congressman
later said he was offended. But Gen. Krulak brushed it off, praising his
ex-boss.

“I think the guy is probably the smartest man I’ve run into in a long
time,” Gen. Krulak told us. “He is just not the world’s greatest
speaker. I think sometimes he says one sentence too much. He’s thinking
and talking at the same time.”

“He got smashed for the ‘menage a trois’ remark. If you think of what
he was trying to say, it was a tremendous compliment to me and my wife.
I’m a Danzig fan. A great fan.”

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