Air Campaign Continues Against Taliban, Terrorist Targets
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2001 Air strikes against Taliban- held targets in Afghanistan continue, senior DoD officials said early this afternoon at the Pentagon.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, joined by Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and about 20 U.S. B-1 and B-2 bombers were being used to pound targets similar to those hit yesterday by U.S. and British military forces.
Targets include Taliban-held airfields, terrorist training camps, command-and-control nodes and anti-aircraft positions. Neither leader would comment on bomb damage assessments, saying it's too early to say.
Myers noted that all U.S. and coalition aircraft that participated in yesterday's strikes had returned safely. He also said a second airdrop of rations for needy Afghans would be made today -- the United States delivered some 37,000 rations to refugee areas yesterday.
But operations go beyond air strikes and food aid, the secretary noted. "We're reaching out to a range of Afghan groups on the ground in the north and in the south, as well as Afghan exiles and disaffected elements within the Taliban who are opposed to the Taliban's policy of turning their nation into a haven for foreign terrorists," he said.
The war against terrorism, he emphasized, isn't against the Afghan people, but against Osama bin Laden, his Taliban protectors, and others who foster global terrorism. Much of Afghanistan was reduced to rubble during years of war against Soviet occupation forces, Rumsfeld remarked, noting it remains destitute today.
He again cautioned reporters that air strikes in Afghanistan "are only a part of an overall campaign" to defeat global terrorism. Further, he said, that campaign "will involve many fronts," and isn't limited to terrorist elements only in Afghanistan. Fighting terrorism will also involve many countries using covert, diplomatic, economic, political, and law enforcement methods, he added.
"The cruise missiles and bombers are not going to solve this problem. We know that," he said. "What they can do is to contribute by adding pressure, making life more difficult, raising the cost for the terrorists and those that are supporting the terrorists, draining their finances and creating an environment that is inhospitable to the people that are threatening the world. That's all.
"It is not simple. It is not neat," Rumsfeld continued. "It is a problem that is going to take continuous pressure by countries across the globe gathering intelligence, providing it to each other and seeing that we in fact over time are sufficiently successful that we can say that those terrorist networks are no longer a threat to free people."
Rumsfeld also used the occasion to praise the contributions of U.S. troops at home and abroad in the fight against global terrorism. He noted he has received thanks, support and admiration from Americans across the country for the efforts of America's military men and women.
"They put themselves at risk for all of us we certainly have every right to be proud and grateful for their service," he said.