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'Box Scores' Don't Tell Whole Story

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2001 – Coalition military forces have dropped "well over 2,000" munitions in more than a week of aerial strikes on Al Qaeda and Taliban sites in Afghanistan, but U.S. military officials caution against using these numbers to "keep score" in the war on terrorism.

"(The numbers) are not the measure of effectiveness of a military campaign," Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, Joint Staff director of operations, told reporters in a Pentagon briefing. "Box scores are generally not helpful."

Newbold said Oct. 15 was a day of particularly heavy strikes. Roughly 100 aircraft, mostly off Navy carriers, struck targets in 12 areas, including a terrorist camp and a training area.

"We struck the Taliban forces in a robust way that included troop and vehicle staging areas, some storage and maintenance sheds. And we hit some troop equipment storage buildings," he added. Newbold also noted AC-130 Specter gunships were used in Afghanistan for the first time Oct. 15.

He said the AC-130 is a particularly effective weapon platform for a mission like this because it allows precision strikes, making it harder for accidental misfires to hit unintended civilian targets.

Newbold and DoD spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said they couldn't confirm reports that a U.S. bomb hit a Red Cross warehouse in Kabul, the Afghan capital. "As we get some good information, we'll let you know," Clarke told reporters.

She also warned against reading too much into the normal ebb and flow of battle. "While at times you may see a certain leveling off of activities, other less visible activities may be under way," Clarke said. "The war against terrorism is a wide-ranging effort."

She also gave an update on how reserve component forces are being used within the United States. To date, 53 state and territory governors have called 7,038 guardsmen to active duty to provide security assistance to 416 commercial airports, she said. In all, 27,802 National Guard and Reserve troops have been called to active duty for various missions.

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