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U.S. Must Network to Defeat al Qaeda, Kimmitt Says

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2006 – It will take a network of international cooperation to defeat al Qaeda and its associate networks, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said here today.

"It takes a network to defeat a network," Kimmitt, U.S. Central Command's deputy director for plans and strategy, said at a State Department Foreign Press Center briefing. "To defeat this organization we must have a network that is more adept, more capable and more lithe."

Kimmitt also laid out three more principles CENTCOM envisions will help defeat terror networks in its region: "helping others help themselves," stopping terrorist safe havens from being established, and reposturing forces for the "Long War."

Because al Qaeda uses technology to its advantage, the Long War must be fought in both the geographical and virtual domain, he said.

"This is a group (al Qaeda) that advertises on the Internet, finances on the Internet, proselytizes on the Internet," he said. "It also uses international criminal networks in many ways - smuggling, in some cases drug money to finance its efforts."

He added that al Qaeda also has command and control elements online.

"If you put this all together, you see a fairly sophisticated network," he said. "Now I don't want to mislead you, this enemy is not 10 feet tall ... but he is networked in a way that we are not," he added.

Kimmitt said that many regional nations are tackling terrorism on their own, and the U.S must continue to help them do so. He cited Jordan, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia as a few examples.

"These are countries that have developed counterterrorism capabilities within their own ministries," he said. "They are taking the fight to al Qaeda itself."

On the safe haven issue, Kimmitt stressed the importance winning the heart and minds of local population, so that they have no wishes to offer sanctuary to terrorists.

Kimmitt also talked about reposturing forces in the Middle East.

"It is our belief that we will not keep -- and do not want to keep -- a huge presence of ground maneuver forces in the region," he said. "After Iraq and Afghanistan are stabilized, we fully understand we have the responsibility to provide a residual (element) ... but that will be a fraction of the number of forces that we have there now."

There are currently about 200,000 U.S. troops in region, he said.

Kimmitt made the point that even though great progress toward representative government has been made in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is a mistake to define the war against terrorism by the day-to-day activities in either country.

"It is not a long war that is not going to lend itself to a lot of metrics, so that one day we will be able to stand up and have ticker-tape parades and say we've been victorious," he said. "It is our view that is not the case."

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