Air Strikes Effective Against Terrorist Targets
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2001 U.S. and allied air strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan are having continued effect on terrorists, said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.
"We continue to make progress in striking al Qaeda and Taliban targets across Afghanistan in the north and in the south, and in creating conditions that we believe will be necessary for sustained anti-terror operations in the country," Rumsfeld told Pentagon reporters today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (center) and Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino (right) meet reporters outside the Pentagon, Oct. 18, 2001. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accompanied Rumsfeld at the press briefing. He echoed the defense secretary's impression, noting that the bombing missions are "destroying or degrading the Taliban infrastructure."
The chairman said U.S. forces hit more than a dozen target areas that included terrorist camps and forces; Taliban military facilities, including missile, vehicle and armor maintenance and storage sites; airfields; troop deployment and garrison areas; and command and control facilities.
"We used tactical aircraft, primarily carrier based, although we did use a small number of F-15Es that operated from facilities in the region. And we employed a few long- range bombers," Myers said, adding that AC-130 gunships were used again. Aircraft from the USS Theodore Roosevelt also participated in yesterday's strikes, he noted.
Myers noted that humanitarian relief efforts also continue. U.S. fliers flew four more C-17 humanitarian airdrop missions yesterday, delivering about 53,000 ration packs. This makes a total of more than 450,000 delivered.
Leaflets exhorting people to abandon or to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda forces were dropped at two separate locations in northeastern Afghanistan, he noted.
Three video clips shown at the briefing showed the destruction of a Taliban headquarters and training complex near Kabul; an armored vehicle in the open and training barracks in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan; and a Taliban security post in the south, including a dug-in tank.
Myers called the war against terrorism the U.S. military's "most important tasking" since World War II.
"What's at stake here is no less than our freedom to exist as an American people. So there's no option but success. We owe it to our families, and to the families of peace-loving nations to prevail in this fight," he emphasized.
Myers asked troops, DoD civilians and allies to stay ready and focused.
"Our victory will be the nation's victory. In a sense, it will be the world's victory, or for sure, those who love freedom."
Following the press conference, Rumsfeld, a former ambassador to NATO, and Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino met reporters at the Pentagon's River Entrance. The secretary thanked Martino for Italy's assistance in the fight against global terrorism.
Global terrorism "is a common enemy and threat against our countries," Martino said. He pledged Italy's "total support." He also noted that Italian military pilots and technicians are likely among the crews of NATO Airborne Warning and Control System planes currently patrolling the U.S. East Coast.