Terror Pockets Remain U.S. Concern; Yemen, U.S. Talk Cooperation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2002 The primary mission in Afghanistan remains to eliminate the pockets of Al Qaeda and Taliban that are trying to regroup, Pentagon officials said Mar. 1.
Air Force Brig. Gen. John Rosa, briefer from the Joint Staff, said U.S. Central Command has located pockets of Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters near Gardez in Paktia province. He said the fighters numbered in the hundreds. They are under observation by coalition officials and will be dealt with when Central Command chief Army Gen. Tommy Franks gives the word.
Defense officials are discussing what the extent and level of cooperation will be between the United States and Yemen. The two countries have been working closely on arrangements, but the plans are not yet final, Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said.
Clarke said the United States and a number of other countries have been working on cooperative efforts against the terror menace. "What are the things we can do together?" she asked. "How can we help many of these countries with logistical support, with training and with the appropriate levels of equipment so they can combat terrorism in their own countries?"
U.S. forces may help train Yemeni armed forces. "We keep all options open," Rosa said. "Until a final decision has been made, it would be inappropriate to speculate on what we will put in there and what the package will look like."
The situation in Yemen, on the Arabian Peninsula, concerns U.S. authorities. Many Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan, including some in U.S. custody, are from Yemen. In 2000, Al Qaeda terrorists killed 19 sailors in an attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor. Yemeni authorities have already detained a number of Al Qaeda operatives.
Clarke and Rosa pointed out that the situations in various countries working with the United States would change. As the situations in those countries differ, so would the training and equipment assistance packages provided by the United States.