- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2001

ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (AP) The commander of the military campaign in Afghanistan said yesterday that anti-terrorism operations are being conducted "in a great many places" around the world in the wake of the September 11 attack on America.
On a Christmas Day visit to sailors in the Arabian Sea, Army Gen. Tommy Franks said America's anti-terrorism hit list extends outside the Middle East.
"It is too early to suggest which countries, but it is not too early to remind ourselves that September 11 put us on course to root out this terrorist problem around the world," Gen. Franks, commander in chief of U.S. Central Command, told the Associated Press.
"If you look within this region and other places around the planet, you find a lot of states which we categorize as sponsors of terrorism," he said.
As a result, overt and covert U.S. military operations are "going on in a great many places that are designed to do away with these pockets of terrorism," he said in the interview, without giving details.
Gen. Franks addressed about 1,000 sailors in the hangar bay aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, telling them the ongoing war in Afghanistan was "about you and about [protecting] your grandbabies and my grandbabies" from future terrorist attacks.
Gen. Franks is in charge of all military operations inside Afghanistan, where U.S. forces launched devastating air strikes on Oct. 7 to pave the way for removing the Taliban government and for destroying Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist group.
Despite the intensive bombardment of Taliban and al Qaeda targets, U.S. forces have not given up the hunt for bin Laden, even if he is buried under rubble inside one of the Tora Bora mountain caves in the country's northeast, Gen. Franks said.
"[We will] go through each of these areas until we satisfy ourselves that he is there and dead. We'll find out about it," Gen. Franks said.
The general paid a Christmas visit to the two U.S. aircraft carriers currently operating in the northern Arabian Sea the Theodore Roosevelt and John C. Stennis. Each carrier leads a battle group of destroyers, cruisers, submarines and warplanes.
"Your country loves you, I love you. You are so special that it waters my eyes when I have a chance to come out here and see you," Gen. Franks told Roosevelt sailors.
"This is about the people on this magnificent war machine serving their country one half of a world from everything that is important to them but this is also what this business of [Operation] Enduring Freedom is all about."
Christmas Day was a normal working day for the Roosevelt's 5,500 sailors with the exceptions of a reduced number of sorties launched over Afghanistan.
Cooks in the ship's giant messes dished up a Christmas dinner that included turkey, ham, beef and sweet-potato pie.
On the flight deck, as the sun set, the loudspeakers blared "Happy Christmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" by Bruce Springsteen.

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