Northern Alliance Progressing With U.S. Help, Pace Says
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2001 Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban ground forces -- with U.S. help -- are making progress in the month-old Afghan military campaign, a senior DoD official said.
The opposition forces have been making progress in a significant military effort against the Taliban during the past month, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pentagon reporters today. Part of measuring that progress, he said, "is the fact that we have been able to continue to provide air support to the people on the ground.
"We do know through some of the videos and other reporting we have that we have, in fact, destroyed (Taliban and Al Qaeda) installations, people, equipment," he added.
To be more specific about gains made by anti-Taliban forces would be "giving the kinds of information to the enemy that we do not want to give," Pace noted.
"Where we are feeling strong or weak is not the kind of thing we want to talk about," he emphasized.
Pace described the battlefield situation between anti- Taliban and terrorist-backed troops as "fluid," particularly around the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif. Anti-Taliban forces have been attacking as U.S. and allied strike aircraft pummel Taliban and Al Qaeda troops, equipment, and cave and tunnel facilities, he noted.
The opposition forces have been aggressive -- sometimes using old-fashioned horse cavalry to attack enemy formations, including tanks and armored personnel carriers, he added.
The U.S. military is supplying anti-Taliban forces with food, weapons, equipment, water and including feed for the horses, Pace noted.
U.S. special operations troops on the ground continue to direct air strikes against Taliban targets, he added.
Pace remarked that more than 2,000 air sorties have been flown against Taliban and Al Qaeda targets in Afghanistan since the air campaign began Oct. 7.
Yesterday, he said, about 80 U.S. and allied aircraft flew strike missions against Taliban and Al Qaeda targets. Two- thirds of the strikes were against Taliban troops arrayed against opposition forces, while the remainder hit terrorists' caves and tunnels.
"Commando Solo" broadcast flights continued, as did humanitarian daily ration packet airdrops, he noted. The 34,000 rations delivered brought the total to more than 1.2 million.
Pace showed imagery of U.S. air strikes destroying Taliban bunkers, armored vehicles, and an Al Qaeda-funded Taliban training site in eastern Afghanistan.
Elsewhere in the war against terrorism, an attacker was shot and killed at about 4 a.m. Eastern time today after exchanging fire with two U.S. military and one local national security guards at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. According to a U.S. Central Command news release, no security team members were injured and the air base was not breached. The release said the incident is under investigation.