- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday the United States is expanding military support for anti-Taliban forces and is ready to send more ground troops into Afghanistan as spotters for bombers.
Mr. Rumsfeld also issued a statement defending the Pentagon's measured pace of the military bombing campaign to date.
The defense secretary said the bombing campaign, now in its fourth week, is moving ahead.
The action began relatively quickly since September 11, when "terrorists attacked New York and Washington, D.C., murdering thousands of innocent people Americans and people from dozens of countries and all races and religions in cold blood," said Mr. Rumsfeld.
On the use of U.S. ground forces, Mr. Rumsfeld said the deployment of special-operations commandos with opposition Northern Alliance troops has resulted in better coordination and more effective air strikes.
Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that the United States will continue its bombing campaign in Afghanistan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan because "we can't afford to have a pause."
"This is an enemy that has to be taken on, and taken on aggressively, and pressed to the end," Miss Rice told reporters at the White House. "And we're going to continue to do that."
Mr. Rumsfeld said that the military also is helping two other Afghan opposition groups that are part of the effort to oust the ruling Taliban militia, which controls about 90 percent of the country.
The number of U.S. troops on the ground is estimated by U.S. defense officials to be very low, and less than in the hundreds. The numbers should increase "three or four times" in the days ahead, said Mr. Rumsfeld.
"We have a number of teams cocked and ready to go; it's just a matter of having the right kind of equipment to get them there and the landing zones in places where it's possible to get in and get out," he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld said the additional commandos will be involved in liaison with anti-Taliban opposition forces, communications, targeting and resupply.
Turkey's government, meanwhile, will send about 90 special-operations commandos to assist training of Afghan opposition forces.
Asked about the participation of Turkish forces, Mr. Rumsfeld said: "The campaign has been broadening almost every day."
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said bombing raids Wednesday focused on destroying command-and-control sites, including bunkers, tunnels and caves, as well as Taliban military forces.
Eight targets were hit around Mazar-e-Sharif, Kabul and Kandahar on Wednesday, and additional targets were bombed in several other areas around Afghanistan, using 55 tactical jets and bombers.
The Pentagon released gun-camera video for the first time showing guided-bomb attacks on a cave complex near Kabul. The al Qaeda terrorists and some Taliban militia are believed to be hiding from U.S. air strikes in some of the hundreds of caves located throughout the country.
Mr. Rumsfeld repeated for reporters that the objectives of the military campaign are to force the Taliban regime to pay a price for harboring terrorists, to obtain intelligence for future attacks against al Qaeda terrorists and the Taliban militia and "to develop useful relationships with groups in Afghanistan that oppose the Taliban and al Qaeda."
The military operation also seeks to make it difficult for terrorists to use Afghanistan as a base of operations, and to alter the military balance of power in favor of opposition forces by knocking out Taliban offensive weapons, he said.
"We have made measurable progress on each of these goals," said Mr. Rumsfeld.
"This is a task that will take time to accomplish. Victory will require that every element of American influence and power be engaged," he said. "Americans have seen tougher adversaries than this before and they have had the staying power to defeat them. Underestimating the American people is a bad bet."
Mr. Rumsfeld said the war is not about "statistics, deadlines, short attention spans, or 24-hour news cycles."
"It is about will the projection of will, the clear, unambiguous determination of the president and the American people to see this through to certain victory," he said.
The defense secretary noted that in past American wars enemy commanders "have come to doubt the wisdom of taking on the strength and power of this nation and the resolve of her people."
"I expect that somewhere, in a cave in Afghanistan, there is a terrorist leader who is, at this moment, considering precisely the same thing," he said of Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader and suspected mastermind of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Asked about the use of cluster bombs that disperse numerous bomblets, Mr. Rumsfeld said the bombs "are being used on frontline al Qaeda and Taliban troops to try to kill them to be perfectly blunt."
"Today is November 1, and smoke at this very moment is still rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "With the ruins still smoldering and the smoke not yet cleared, it seems to me that Americans understand well that despite the urgency in the press questions we are still in the very, very early stages of this war."
Mr. Rumsfeld noted that after the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor it took the United States four months before Lt. Col. James Doolittle led a bombing raid on Tokyo.
Also, the first land battle against the Japanese was carried out eight months after Pearl Harbor.
"Many things about this war are different from wars past, but, as I have said, one of those differences is not the possibility of instant victory," he said.
"There is no doubt in my mind but that the American people know that it's going to take more than 24 days," he said. "I also stated that our task is much broader than simply defeating the Taliban or al Qaeda it is to root out global terrorist networks, not just in Afghanistan, but wherever they are, to ensure that they cannot threaten the American people or our way of life."
Since the bombing began, U.S. and allied aircraft have flown 2,000 sorties and dropped more than 1 million packaged meals to Afghan refugees.
Mr. Rumsfeld said that press reports claiming the U.S. military has not been aggressive enough in carrying out bombing raids are "absolutely false."
Initial targets were chosen to knock out air defenses and aircraft and then to hit various military targets.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide