U.S., Australian Defense Leaders Meet
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussed actions in Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism with Australian Defense Minister Robert Hill during a meeting at the Pentagon Jan. 10.
Both men sent their condolences to the families and friends of seven Marines killed in a plane crash in Pakistan Jan. 9.
Hill used the occasion to thank America for leading the war on terrorism. He said Australia is pleased to play its part and will stick by the cause for the long haul. "The job is done, as far as we're concerned, when we can all be much more confident that the terrible forms of terrorism that we've seen in the last 12 months will never be repeated," Hill said during a press conference.
Australian special operations forces have fought alongside their U.S. counterparts, Australian embassy officials said. Australian ships and aircraft have also supported coalition efforts in the region.
Rumsfeld said the United States welcomes Australia's participation in Afghanistan and their long-term commitment. "There's just no question but that this is going to be a long process," he said. "There are terrorist networks well beyond Al Qaeda, and they exist in many parts of the globe. And our view is that there's no way in the world the United States can or should be engaged in this activity alone."
Hill said Australia has not set time limits on participation in the war. "We think that this task will take a considerable time yet," he said. "We think there's still a great deal of work that needs to be done in Afghanistan. But I agree the terrorist linkages extend beyond Afghanistan and that the goal is to best ensure that terrorism can't be exported as it was last year, and obviously we'll have to turn our attention to areas beyond Afghanistan."
Rumsfeld said the transfer of Al Qaeda terrorists from Afghanistan to the U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, may have begun. He said DoD officials have consulted with experts on the best way to transport such detainees.
He said commanders have reviewed the Al Qaeda uprising at the holding area in Mazar-e Sharif, an incident in Pakistan in which Al Qaeda prisoners overpowered and killed guards, and an incident in Kandahar where an Al Qaeda prisoner jumped from the hospital and killed himself with a hand grenade.
"(Commanders are) fully aware that these are dangerous individuals," Rumsfeld said. "There are, among these prisoners, people who are perfectly willing to kill themselves and kill other people."