Rear Adm. Quigley Interview with Mitch Albom
Thursday, September 20, 2001
(Interview for the Mitch Albom radio show.)
Q: -- Mitch Albom Show by Rear Admiral Craig Quigley from the U.S. Navy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, and we're happy to have him here on the Mitch Albom show.
Do I say Rear Admiral or just Admiral or Craig?
Quigley: Craig is just fine.
Q: All right, Craig it is.
Well Craig, I think as our ships head out there and our troops head out there, it's a good show of might, but a lot of people are saying all right, when they get wherever it is they're getting, then what?
Quigley: Mitch, this is going to be a very different war than any that America has ever fought in her history. You are not going against conventional armies and navies and air forces here. You're going against terrorists that live and fight in the shadows. And military activity will certainly be a part of this, but it's not enough. It needs to also have elements of financial and diplomatic and economic as well as the going after organizations and even nations that provide support for these terrorist networks around the world.
Q: Let's take this down to the ground level, all right? If we put people on the ground in Afghanistan my suspicion, and please correct me if I'm wrong because I'm certainly no military expert, but my suspicion is one of the first things they have to do is get the Afghanistan people who are there on the ground with them to cooperate with them, to give them some information, to have someone who speaks the language who can say you know, look, here's what we're here to do. We're looking for bin Laden. We're looking for what kind of information he has. Maybe he even has money with him or something that you try to get them on. It's not enough to just sort of land on the ground and just start advancing and taking territory. We're not in this to take territory. We're in this to take prisoners. Am I off base in thinking that?
Quigley: No, Mitch, you've really got it very right.
Without getting into the specifics of any planning that we're undertaking right now, this is more than just one person, it's more than just one network. This is a network of networks of terrorists and the individuals and organizations that support them. It will require a long term, sustained effort.
One thing we're very heartened by is the variety of support that we're receiving from nations around the world. The support varies because nations' capabilities vary. But this is one thing that all nations can agree on is that terrorism is just a scourge on the earth.
Q: Is it your opinion that Osama bin Laden is actually still within the boundaries of Afghanistan?
Quigley: Well one of the areas that we're asking a wide variety of nations for their help is in the intelligence support area. Different people are helpful in regards to intelligence information to different nations for different reasons and we certainly do not have a monopoly on all the good knowledge in that regard. So that is something that we're trying to find out -- again, not just about bin Laden, but about this network of terrorism around the world.
Q: If we capture or kill a lieutenant in this network, so to speak -- I'm using the word lieutenant just as a noun -- someone whose name is not as famous as Osama bin Laden, whose face is not as, but we believe is someone affected. Will that information be given to the American public? Will it be announced that today we captured or killed this person who was believed to have this thing? Are we going to even know about that?
Quigley: I guess the answer to your question is sometimes. The activities that will take place around the world -- we're going to be dealing with some rather unsavory characters and some unsavory nations with whom we have very little else in common perhaps. But in the common goal of fighting terrorism, on that we can agree, and some of this stuff will be very public, very readily understood by one and all, and some things we're not going to be able to talk about, perhaps ever.
Q: I would think the part of it that has to be public, in order to keep the resolve up here on the home front, in order to keep people believing behind, not getting fatigued by it, whatever, we have to have some kind of feeling of success if we're having success. So the government's going to have to balance that need for secrecy with the need for the American public to say good, we're making progress, let's keep funding it, let's keep supporting it, let's keep believing and supporting our politicians and our President. So some amount of information, particularly if it's what we would call positive news, although I don't think there is such a thing as positive news in war, just relatively positive news. I think we're going to need some of that, don't you?
Quigley: I think it's very important that the American people understand what we're about to undertake here and be kept apprised of its progress over the months and years to come. It's very, very fundamental, I believe, to what they expect of their government, and whether that's military or intelligence or financial, they deserve that and we will provide as best we can.
Q: The terrain in those regions -- Afghanistan and going through Pakistan. What are our armed forces people going to be facing there?
Quigley: Well again, Mitch, I'm sorry I can't be very helpful about what it is we're contemplating, but I will say that we have deployed military forces, have begun that process outside of the United States, and beyond that I hope you understand that it would not be helpful, it would actually be harmful to the lives of real people if we were too forthcoming with our plans.
Q: I guess I'm just sort of asking about geography. We knew Desert Storm, for example was a lot of flat, hot land that if we did go on the ground there that would be an issue, exposure would be an issue. If we did go on the ground in Afghanistan, everything I see looks very mountainous. It looks like difficult terrain to cover easily by foot. Is that some of the obstacles we're facing there? If we did go on the ground there?
Quigley: Yeah, very true. Again, that's just another example of something that will make this effort against terrorism very different than anything that Americans are used to.
If you try to draw analogies to Desert Storm, to the Gulf War, even to Kosovo just a couple of years ago, the analogies are very few. That effort in Desert Storm against Saddam Hussein was against his conventional military operation and you had months of buildup of forces in that region. It's no surprise that coalition nations were ultimately going to take action against Saddam. And two years ago in Kosovo with a concerted air campaign of dozens of days, very visible, very apparent to all.
This will be a long term, sustained effort of fighting an enemy that operates in the shadows and it will be sometimes visible and sometimes not.
Q: Let me ask you about those shadows, something that has occurred to me as a definite lay civilian of how this works.
I have these pictures, and please correct me if I'm wrong, of an Osama bin Laden or some of his people, the people who are protecting him, hiding underground, literally hiding where if you took a picture you would see nothing.
If that is indeed the case, but we have intelligence that he's in that region somewhere, and we were to fly in and drop bombs or whatever, is it possible to withstand an air attack or cruise missiles or whatever? Can you get far enough underground that if you just stay there hidden for months on end, that unless people know where you're at you can survive an attack, even if it is of U.S. military significance?
Quigley: Mitch, if you go underground with a target it does make it much more difficult for the planners to try to attack that target, but we are a very capable military and we have a wide variety of capabilities and we've shown ourselves over the years to be pretty good at figuring out work-arounds.
Q: I know this is very sensitive stuff and we'll wrap up here, but any concern about chemical weapons or biological weapons that might be used in some kind of retaliation against our soldiers? I know that some people have reported to us that some of the satellite pictures have shown in Afghanistan, for example, areas where animals were tethered to cords and were dead, making them think that perhaps they had been experimenting with it. Obviously you've got to be concerned about that for our military, let alone our civilian population back home here.
Quigley: Yeah. Always a concern, of course, Mitch. It's one of the weapons of terror, again, terror organizations have professed an enthusiasm to use around the world.
We've got a couple of ways to counter that. Probably the best of them is again, a very robust intelligence capability, working with our friends and allies around the globe to try to glean that one little bit of information that would make a difference and allow us to get a leg up on the terrorist organizations themselves. But our troops in the field do have a self-defense, a self-protection capability and they're very well trained in that regard.
Q: Last question. Do we have enough men for this right now? Do we need more people signing up or enlisting?
Quigley: We have been very heartened in the last ten days or so since the attack on America to see a spike in the number of young people that are inquiring about the military among our recruiters around the nation. We do have enough. They are very well trained. But I'm very heartened in the sense just being an American to see the young people that have expressed an interest in wanting to serve in some way.
Q: You're very kind with your time. I know you've got a lot of things going on. Thanks for spending some time with us.
Quigley: Thank you, Mitch.
Q: Rear Admiral Craig --