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DoD Continues to Drop Rations, Info to Afghan People

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

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2001 – U.S. military forces dropped another 68,000 humanitarian ration packs into Afghanistan over the weekend, bringing to more than 275,000 the total delivered since military operations began in that country a week ago, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today.

"This is bringing needed food to hungry Afghan people as well as a message of friendship from the American people," he said in a Pentagon press briefing.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, updated the press on the weekend's offensive operations. He said roughly 25 aircraft struck 17 targeted areas Saturday and another seven Sunday. The sites included terrorist camps, military training facilities, airfields, air defenses, command and control facilities, surface-to-air missile storage sites, garrison areas, troop staging areas, and Al Qaeda infrastructure.

Myers said U.S. forces also dropped flyers for the first time. The two flyers are printed in Dari on one side and Pashtu on the other. DoD officials said these are the two most common languages in Afghanistan.

One flyer says, "The partnership of nations is here to help" with a picture of an American service member shaking an Afghan's hand on one side, and, "The partnership of nations is here to help the people of Afghanistan" on the other. The other flyer tells which frequencies and times American information programming is being broadcast.

"We're working to make clear to the Afghan people that we support them and we want to help free their nation from the grip of the Taliban and (the Taliban's) foreign terrorist allies," Rumsfeld said.

The two leaders said Taliban's claims of high civilian casualties from the bombing are untrue. "We do not have information that validates any of that. Indeed, some of the numbers are ridiculous," Rumsfeld said. "We know that the Taliban leadership and Al Qaeda are accomplished liars, that they go on television and they say things that we know are absolutely not true."

Myers did describe one instance from Saturday in which a military helicopter was targeted, but a small house was hit. He called the incident an "unfortunate case."

"Our planners, in fact, do everything they can to avoid such mishaps," he said. "But sometimes these things unfortunately happen."

Rumsfeld explained that DoD knows where their munitions hit and will continue to tell the American people when weapons hit unintended targets, but people have to know that these things will happen occasionally in such an operation.

"Every time the Department of Defense is engaged in the air or on the ground we have to know that there are going to be people hurt," he said. "Overwhelmingly, they will be people who we intend to hurt."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageDefense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brief reporters in the Pentagon on air operations over Afghanistan. Over the weekend, they said Oct. 15, the United States airdropped 68,000 humanitarian ration packs, bringing the total delivered to 275,000, while warplanes struck 24 military targets. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA.   
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