U.S. Crews Assault Al Qaeda, Taliban Support Structures
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2001 U.S. aircraft and Tomahawk cruise missiles hit 85 percent of their 31 targets during the first two days of strikes against the Al Qaeda terrorist network and Taliban support structure inside Afghanistan, DoD officials said today.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Pentagon press conference that strikes continue in Afghanistan for a third day. All U.S. aircrews returned safely, they said.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (right) and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discuss the first damage assessments out of Afghanistan for the press -- 85 percent of the 31 designated targets were hit in the first two days of strikes against the Al Qaeda terrorist network and Taliban support structure. The two briefed reporters Oct. 9, 2001. Photo by Jim Garamone.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
They said the continuing strikes were the military side of the constant pressure the U.S. government and its allies are putting on Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and its Taliban supporters.
The strikes hit terrorist training camps, airfields, anti- aircraft radars and launchers, communications nodes and some military concentrations. Myers said the initial strikes have given the United States "air supremacy" over Afghanistan, and the secretary said the United States can now conduct operations over the country "around the clock, as we wish."
The strikes set the stage for a sustained campaign against Al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters. Rumsfeld said conditions make it easier to deliver humanitarian rations.
Myers said U.S. forces hit 13 targets with five to eight land-based bombers and 10 to 15 Navy strike aircraft. In addition, two ships and one submarine launched 15 Tomahawk missiles at targets in Afghanistan.
Two C-17 transports also dropped 37,500 Humanitarian Daily Ration packs to refugees within Afghanistan. DoD will deliver medical supplies to the Afghan refugees in the future. Rumsfeld said medical supplies would not be airdropped.
Rumsfeld and Myers would not give specifics about future campaign plans. Rumsfeld said the air attacks would concentrate on "emerging targets" and hit them as necessary. He scoffed at reports that aircrews were running out of targets. "We're not running out of targets, Afghanistan is," he said. He said the United States and its partners would continue to exercise the utmost care in selecting targets to minimize civilian casualties.
"If you try to quantify what we're doing today in terms of previous conventional wars, you're making a huge mistake," Myers said. "That is 'old think' and that will not help you to analyze what we're doing."
Rumsfeld agreed, saying the war against terrorism is a "notably different situation" from those in the past. Before, the tonnage of bombs dropped was a measure of success. Other measurements having nothing to do with the Defense Department can be just as important.
"The Department of Justice and associated agencies in other countries have arrested literally hundreds of people and are interrogating them," Myers said. "The Department of Treasury with cooperation from nations from around the globe have frozen a great many bank accounts and frozen millions of dollars of assets that are connected to terrorist organizations."
He said State Department negotiations with friends and allies continue the diplomatic pressure on nations. This has caused some nations to break off relations with the Taliban, while others "are looking to themselves and their circumstance and the extent to which they might be seen to creating an environment hospitable to terrorists and making an adjustment to the way they behave."
He also said intelligence communities worldwide are receiving, processing and sharing information.
"That is not going up on a scoreboard on Wrigley Field showing what's happening," Rumsfeld said. "But it is there, and it is growing, and it is adding pressure every single day. And what has been done ... by the Department of Defense is contributing to that. It's the aggregation of that, sustained over time, that will prove to be successful."