- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that U.S. forces are using ground-penetrating bombs to blast al Qaeda terrorists hidden in caves and underground redoubts.
Asked if U.S. bombers are using special "bunker buster" and earth-penetrating bombs against terrorists and their Taliban militia supporters, Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters: "You bet. To the the extent we see a good deal of activity, a lot of so-called adits and tunnel entries and external indication of internal activity, we have targeted them." Adits are openings to mines or other underground facilities.
Adm. Michael Boyce, head of the British armed forces, told reporters in London that military action in Afghanistan could go on until next summer, but could be shorter if the ruling Taliban militia turns over Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader U.S. officials say was behind the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.
"It could be a very short haul [or] we must expect to go through the winter and into next summer at the very least," Adm. Boyce said, noting that the military campaign could slow during the harsh Afghan winter.
Meanwhile, Pakistan's government has allowed U.S. military aircraft to use bases inside the country, the Associated Press reported from Islamabad, quoting Pakistani officials. Some 15 planes, including C-130 transports, landed at two bases in Pakistan.
Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said yesterday that 36 nations had offered military troops or equipment for the raids on Afghanistan and that 44 nations provided overflight clearance. A total of 33 nations provided landing rights and 14 countries have allowed U.S. forces to "bed down" during the operations.
A total of 22,713 reservists have been called up, and the military is continuing to drop thousands of packaged meals to Afghan refugees, Miss Clarke said.
U.S. Air Force B-2, B-1 and B-52 bombers have hit underground facilities and have caused "enormous secondary explosions" that continued for hours after the underground targets were bombed, said Mr. Rumsfeld.
Since the end of the Cold War, the defense secretary said, a lot of nations have "done a lot of digging underground" to hide nuclear and conventional weapons.
"It is not unique to Afghanistan," he said. "It does make much more complicated the task of dealing with targets because, as you've known from photographs you've seen of North Korea, it is perfectly possible to dig into the side of a mountain and put a large ballistic missile in there and erect it and fire it out of the mountain from an underground post."
The full range of U.S. weaponry dropped and fired on targets in Afghanistan since operations began Sunday included 5,000-pound "bunker buster" bombs as well as "earth penetrators," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
Marine Corp. Maj. Gen. Henry P. Osman, the Pentagon's Joint Staff operational plans director, said bombing raids were continuing yesterday and that progress has been made in destroying Taliban forces and al Qaeda terrorist infrastructure.
"We continue operations against al Qaeda as well as those who support them," said Gen. Osman. "Military operations have been going on all day today. And we continue to update and adapt our plans."
U.S. forces hit six targets on Tuesday identified as al Qaeda bases, Taliban airfields and defense facilities. Up to eight land-based bombers and 10 Navy strike jets from aircraft carriers took part in the attacks.
Seven targets were hit on Wednesday, including troop concentrations around Kabul and Kandahar, and a missile and radar site, said Gen. Osman.
Pentagon sources said there were no reported U.S. casualties.
Ten land-based bombers from the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia and 12 to 15 Navy jets took part along with three Tomahawk missiles launched from a submarine, he said.
The Pentagon also released photographs showing bomb damage from the strikes, including a line of Afghan jets that were destroyed at an airfield near Heart, and a radio station near Kabul.
Gen. Osman said the penetrating bombs are being used against tunnels, caves and facilities that have been hardened against attack. The two-star general did not say how successful the attacks on underground facilities were.
Mr. Rumsfeld stated: "The United States is targeting al Qaeda and Taliban military capabilities that is to say, tanks or trucks or aircraft, training camps, terrorist training camps, concentrations of equipment of various types, and also, needless to say, command and control."
Leaders of al Qaeda and the Taliban also have been targeted "to the extent they're in command-and-control facilities," he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld would not discuss the presence of U.S. troops in Pakistan, a Muslim nation that has some supporters of Islamic extremists in Afghanistan.
"Our goal is to get the maximum help from countries all across this globe, and there is no question but the way to get maximum help is to let them characterize what it is they are doing for us," said Mr. Rumsfeld. "And I must say I am just delighted with the help we are getting from the region and from all across the world."
Mr. Rumsfeld said he did not think the bombing has intensified over the past several days. He noted that it has been "roughly in the same ballpark every day."
Mr. Rumsfeld also said he believed bin Laden is probably still in Afghanistan and has found a "hospitable place to be."
"The forces in power at the present time have been very good to him and supportive of him," he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld said it is possible that bin Laden may flee the country "in the fog of war."
"I don't get up in the morning and ask myself where he is," he said. "I am interested in the problem of terrorists and terrorist networks and countries that harbor them all across the globe. And if he were gone tomorrow, the al Qaeda network would continue functioning essentially as it does today. He is certainly a problem; he is not the problem."
Gen. Osman said there are signs of defections among some of the Taliban military. He also said the U.S. strikes are assisting the Northern Alliance, although there is not close operational coordination.
Mr. Rumsfeld said U.S. forces were "getting information from the ground" from unspecified sources. "And to the extent it's actionable, that information, we then are using it for targeting," he said.
Gen. Osman said the military is "obviously receiving communications from the Northern Alliance."
"It's possible to use that in target planning," he said.
Gen. Osman said the bombing is making progress attacking the terrorists. "There's no doubt we've disrupted their network," he said, declining to say whether terrorists are on the move from their facilities. He said the military strikes have been successful in hitting 85 percent of the targets.



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