- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

The Pentagon yesterday announced it is planning a lengthy war against international terrorists, and officials said all options, from air strikes to commando raids, are open.

Military officials said the campaign must concentrate on eliminating perpetrators as opposed to bombing rebuildable infrastructure, as was done in the first missile strike on terrorist Osama bin Laden's camps in 1998.

"We are entering into a campaign against terrorism that has to be sustained and broad and effective," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.

"You don't do it with just a single military strike, no matter how dramatic. You don't do it with just military forces alone, you do it with the full resources of the U.S. government. It will be a campaign, not a single action."

U.S. officials familiar with some of the options discussed inside the Pentagon said Army officers are suggesting that ground operations must be used if the objective is to eliminate the people who orchestrate attacks on Americans.

"I don't think we talk about damaging infrastructure at this point," said a Senate defense aide. "I think they have to go after people. You can't be cute about it. America now has the will to go after these people."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said for the first time that the administration will target terrorists who have killed Americans in previous assaults as well as the participants in Tuesday's attacks in New York and Washington.

This opens the door for striking targets in Iran. The Justice Department has accused Iranians of aiding fanatics who bombed the Khobar Towers military barracks in Saudi Arabia in 1996, killing 19 American service members. Mr. Powell's declaration means that the United States plans to pressure Saudi Arabia to target terrorist cells there, such as the Saudi Hezbollah, which the United States says carried out the bombing.

Mr. Powell also for the first time identified Saudi exile bin Laden as a prime suspect in planning the hijackings of four commercial airlines on Tuesday. Two of the planes smashed into the World Trade Center's twin towers, another hit the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in Pennsylvania en route to Washington.

A key player in this newly declared war is Pakistan, whose border is used by bin Laden operatives to leave and enter Afghanistan. Pakistan's proximity to Afghanistan would make it prime ground for the United States to target bin Laden.

Military officers said options being prepared for President Bush include the use of special operations forces that would enter Afghanistan, or another terrorist-harboring country, armed with intelligence information on bin Laden's whereabouts.

Satellites would be used to intercept communications, and locate and photograph the targets.

"It's all a question of speed and execution," said the Senate aide. Operational security would be a tantamount importance. This perhaps explains Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's admonishment on Wednesday for personnel not to disclose classified information.

Introducing ground troops would be a defining moment in Mr. Bush's presidency. If successful, the operation could stamp him as a victor over terrorism.

If it failed, it could label him as the commander in chief of another Desert One — the disastrous attempt by President Carter to free hostages in Iran.

As the Pentagon worked on military options, the armed forces were making the first preparations for an attack. Two Navy carriers, the USS Enterprise and the USS Carl Vinson, remain on station in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in the region, normally keeps one carrier in the Gulf. The two battle groups carry more than 120 warplanes. Surface ships and attack submarines are armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Meanwhile, Air Force jets continued to fly protective "caps" over major population centers, including Washington. Their presence raised the distasteful scenario of a presidential decision to shoot down an airliner and its terrorists' captives in order to save thousands of lives on the ground.

The war planning announced yesterday by the Pentagon will require new thinking, several officials said. The administration must figure out how to use the military to punish scores of terrorists around the globe. Bin Laden's organization alone operates cells in 27 countries, including the United States.

Said a military officer, "This is the opportunity to end this stuff, for us to stop all of these terrorists."


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