Aircraft, Missiles Hammer Terrorists
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2001 Aircraft and Tomahawk missiles hammered terrorist targets in Afghanistan, DoD officials said in a Pentagon press conference today.
An F/A-18C Hornet is prepared for launch from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in a strike against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. The carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a base for terrorist operations and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime. The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) is operating in the Arabian Sea as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Greg Messier, U.S. Navy.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
About 15 land-based bombers and 25 Navy strike aircraft from carriers participated in the first strikes, said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In addition, U.S. and British ships and submarines launched approximately 50 Tomahawk missiles.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the land-based bombers were U.S. B-2s, B-1Bs and B-52s. Most of the munitions dropped were precision-guided.
Rumsfeld said that any characterization of the strikes as an attack on the Afghan people is "flat wrong." He said the United States supports the Afghan people and that the attacks were aimed at Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban regime that supports him.
The secretary said a coalition of forces made the attacks possible. That coalition, he said, shares "the belief that terrorism is a cancer on the human condition, and we intend to oppose it wherever it is."
"What took place today, and what will take place in the period ahead, is part of the measured and broad and sustained response that the president announced shortly after the attacks on Sept. 11," Rumsfeld said during a press conference.
The attacks initially targeted anti-aircraft sites, Taliban combat aircraft and terrorist sites. The attacks set the stage "for sustained anti-terrorist and humanitarian relief operations in Afghanistan," Rumsfeld said.
The United States also started airdropping 37,500 humanitarian ration packets from two Air Force C-17 transports to refugees within Afghanistan, Myers and Rumsfeld noted.
Rumsfeld said the attacks will make it harder for Al Qaeda to do business in Afghanistan. They will also make life difficult for the Taliban regime. He said the opening attacks were focused on hammering home a number of points, the first being a clear message to the Taliban leaders that harboring terrorists is unacceptable and carries a price.
The attacks seek to acquire intelligence to facilitate future operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, he noted. They will further U.S. and coalition efforts to "develop relationships with groups in Afghanistan that oppose the Taliban regime and the foreign terrorists they support," he added.
The attacks seek to alter the military balance in Afghanistan by denying the Taliban its offensive systems and, finally, to make it possible for the United States to provide humanitarian relief safely "to Afghans suffering truly oppressive living conditions under the Taliban regime," Rumsfeld said.
Neither Rumsfeld nor Myers would discuss details of the attacks, their effectiveness or any other efforts against the terrorists.
Myers said the operations in Afghanistan are "visible," but that other operations may not be.
"But visible or not, our friends and enemies should understand that all instruments of our national power, as well as those of our friends and allies around the world, are being brought to bear on this global menace," Myers said. "We are in the early stages of ongoing combat operations, and our outstanding men and women in uniform are performing just as they've been trained to do -- and that is to say, superbly."