U.S. Forces Strike Al Qaeda 'in Its Entirety'
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2001 U.S. forces are striking Al Qaeda "in its entirety," said Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations for current readiness and capabilities at the Joint Staff.
Stufflebeem during a Pentagon press conference today said coalition forces have struck all the Al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. If Al Qaeda has other camps or tries to establish more, U.S. forces will strike those, he said.
"To get into the details of the numbers is not nearly as important as the larger context of the campaign," he said. "We're going after Al Qaeda in its entirety. So wherever we find it we're going to attack it."
On Oct. 22, U.S. forces struck 11 planned target areas, Stufflebeem said. The targets included airfields, radar installations and deployed Taliban forces including armor, vehicles and buildings. U.S. aircraft also struck targets in garrison and are interdicting lines of communications. American aircraft further struck targets of opportunity in engagement zones.
The strikes required 60 carrier-based and 10 land-based tactical aircraft, including AC-130s, and 10 long-range bombers.
"We also flew four C-17 missions carrying humanitarian relief," Stufflebeem said. The aircraft dropped 57,000 humanitarian daily rations, bringing the total to over 750,000. In addition, U.S. forces assisted the U.S. Agency for International Development in delivering 30,000 blankets to Islamabad, Pakistan.
Stufflebeem said the Taliban is starting to disperse its forces and hiding them in neighborhoods and near mosques. "I personally think the Taliban will use whatever means they have, including the people of Afghanistan, to shield their capability," he said.
He said the Taliban and Al Qaeda are inextricably linked. "I personally think there are Al Qaeda fighters (with the Taliban forces)," he said. "I believe that because there has been an arrangement that is well known within Afghanistan between Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah (Mohammed) Omar for some time. They are mutually supportive.
"I'd be surprised if one can survive without the other," he continued. "To believe that Afghan 'foreigners' can come to the country and train, and not fight, just doesn't seem credible."
Stufflebeem said he knows U.S. forces are "attriting" Taliban and Al Qaeda forces.