Rumsfeld Believes U.S. Can Get Bin Laden
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2001 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld answered media reports that said the United States might not get Osama bin Laden.
"I think we're going to get him," he said during a Pentagon press conference. "The success of the mission is to stop terrorists from terrorizing the world and to stop countries from harboring terrorists. I suspect that will involve bringing those people, including UBL, to justice or bringing justice to them."
Rumsfeld fell into the military habit of using an acronym for just about everything. He referred to bin Laden as "UBL." The letter U stands for Usama, another form of bin Laden's first name.
He did, however, say getting bin Laden will not be easy. "It's like looking for a needle in a haystack. I suspect it's easier to change the Taliban leadership over time than to find a specific person," Rumsfeld said. "But we certainly intend to find him, and we're doing everything humanly possible to do that."
The secretary also disagreed with reports the DoD leadership is surprised by how tenacious the Taliban is. "I guess it's all a question of what your level of expectation was," he said. "Anyone who's watched the history in that country and seen the fact that the people who are still in that country and who still have power in that country seem perfectly willing to spend year after year fighting each other, one ought not to be surprised.
"At least I'm not surprised that they are good at that task of fighting each other," Rumsfeld went on. "My expectation was that they would be determined and that we have to do what we can to assist the forces on the ground to defeat them."
Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers gave an operational update on Oct. 24 military activities in Afghanistan. He said roughly 80 American aircraft struck targets in nine planned areas as well as targets of opportunity.
C-17 cargo aircraft also dropped about 35,000 humanitarian ration packs bringing the total rations dropped to more than 800,000.
The information war continued as well, with Commando Solo broadcasts and leaflet drops in the north and northeast regions, Myers said.
He said recent strikes "were again geared at degrading Taliban forces arrayed against opposition forces."
Toward the end of the briefing, a reporter asked Rumsfeld what DoD can do to keep the American public firmly behind the war on terrorism. The secretary told him not to underestimate the American people.
"They have a pretty good center of gravity and good judgment," Rumsfeld said. "Some people think that everyone has a concentration span of 30 seconds. I don't think so. I think people reflect on what happened on Sept. 11; they felt it very deeply. They recognize the threats that exist in our country to their way of life, and they do not think that there is an easy fix to this problem."