- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday that U.S. forces have killed some al Qaeda leaders in three weeks of bombing, but that the top leaders remain at large.
"There's no question but that Taliban and al Qaeda people, military, have been killed," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "We've seen enough intelligence to know that we've damaged and destroyed a number of tanks, a number of artillery pieces, a number of armored personnel carriers, and a number of troops. Are there leaders mixed in there? Yes. At what level? Who knows."
The leaders include middle- to upper-level leaders, he said.
"But to our knowledge, none of the very top six, eight, 10 people have been included in that number," Mr. Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.
Mr. Rumsfeld also said no U.S. military personnel had been captured by the Taliban and that it is not likely any other Americans are being held.
A Taliban official in Pakistan claimed yesterday to have captured a number of Americans.
A defense official said there have been no Americans taken prisoner in Afghanistan since the bombing began earlier this month.
The defense secretary said in a television interview Sunday that the underground hide-outs of the terrorists are major targets of the bombing. "There's no question that we have been systematically working on the caves, and on the tunnels, and on their openings, and we've had some success," he said.
Mr. Rumsfeld summed up the military component of the Bush administration's war against terrorism by saying the bombing and missile strikes are making steady progress.
Taliban air defenses have been depleted enough for U.S. forces to provide ammunition and other supplies to anti-Taliban forces, Mr. Rumsfeld said.
The Northern Alliance and other Taliban foes have asked the Pentagon for ammunition. "We then try to find the ammunition that fits their weapons, and then we take it in," Mr. Rumsfeld said, noting that the ground forces have had trouble reaching the dropped ammo and getting it to their weapons.
The campaign against terrorism will be long and involve some 40 to 50 nations where al Qaeda is believed to have cells, he said.
"Our goal is not to reduce or simply contain terrorist acts, but our goal is to deal with it comprehensively," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "And we do not intend to stop until we've rooted out terrorist networks and put them out of business, not just in the case of the Taliban and the al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but other networks as well."
"As we've said from the start of the campaign, this will not happen overnight," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "It is a marathon, not a sprint. It will be years, not weeks or months."
The defense secretary's remarks come amid some criticism that the war is not going as planned and that civilian casualties are mounting.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, also said the military campaign is on track. "We're pretty much on our plan. And we are in the driver's seat. We are proceeding at our pace; we are not proceeding at the Taliban's pace or al Qaeda's pace. We can control that, and we are controlling it in a way that I think is right along with our plan that we set out, that Central Command set out, some time ago."
Meanwhile, Gen. Tommy Franks, commander in chief of the Central Command, arrived in Islamabad, Pakistan, yesterday for talks with President Pervez Musharraf.
Pakistan is providing major support for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan through refueling and emergency-landing facilities and by allowing overflights.
The support has come despite opposition from some Islamic radicals in Pakistan.
The battle against terrorists will take "constant pressure" along a broad front of activities, including military, intelligence, diplomatic and financial activities, Mr. Rumsfeld said. "It is something, as we've said, that is more akin to draining the swamp, bit by bit, than it is to some sort of a major massed land battle or sea battle or air battle."
Gen. Myers said the current conflict is unlike past wars in the Persian Gulf and Kosovo. "Any expectations based on them made by pundits are not really relevant to this plan and our asymmetric warfare on terrorism," Gen. Myers said.
"Of course, we've got some visible forms of this, that comes in the form of air strikes, and are advancing toward providing the basis for other efforts, both visible and some invisible. And we'll proceed at a time and place of our choosing."
Gen. Myers said U.S. operations over the past weekend included attacks on caves and tunnels used by al Qaeda terrorists, and bombing of Taliban military facilities and vehicles.
On Sunday, 65 U.S. warplanes attacked six targets in areas around Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul. The targets included terrorist and Taliban "command-and-control elements," Taliban air-defense sites and military forces in barracks and in the field, Gen. Myers said.
Other strikes included moving targets in the "engagement zones" set up around the country to hit targets of opportunity.
Mr. Rumsfeld said the current conflict was thrust upon the United States. "And we love liberty and we need to do whatever it will take to defend it," he said. "We know that victory will not come without a cost. War is ugly. It causes misery and suffering and death, and we see that every day. And brave people give their lives for this cause, and, needless to say, innocent bystanders can be caught in cross fire."
He said "there are instances where in fact there are unintended effects of this conflict, and ordnance ends up where it should not, and we all know that, and that's true of every conflict."
"Let's be clear; no nation in human history has done more to avoid civilian casualties than the United States has in this conflict," he said. "Every single day, in the midst of war, Americans risk their lives to deliver humanitarian assistance and alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people. We did not start the war; the terrorists started it when they attacked the United States, murdering more than 5,000 innocent Americans."

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