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Good Relations With Locals Helping Troops Find Weapons

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2002 – The way coalition military forces find illegal weapons in Afghanistan has evolved over the course of operations there, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today.

"In the beginning, they were found during military sweeps. Somewhat later, they were located during small attacks on enemy concentrations or through liaisons with regional leaders," Rumsfeld said of the roughly 475 weapons caches found in Afghanistan.

"Most recently, as the coalition forces develop relationships with people in Afghanistan and have been physically present in areas, the overwhelming majority of the information has come from tips by local Afghans," Rumsfeld said. The amounts and types of weapons found as of mid-October, he said, included:

o 2,100 AK-47 rifles with 720,000 rounds of ammunition.

o More than 5 million rounds of heavy machine-gun ammunition.

o 190 mortars with 70,000 mortar rounds.

o More than 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and 14,600 rounds.

o 2,116 air-to-air missiles.

o 2,708 rocket launchers with 42,997 107 mm and 122 mm rockets.

o 302 SA-7 surface-to-air missiles.

o 3,693 mines.

"The important thing is this transition from finding them because of military sweeps to finding them with very small numbers of U.S. forces because local Afghans are literally coming up and alerting the coalition forces to the locations," he said.

Defense Department policy for the disposition of such weapons and ammunition is to collect them for use by the Afghan national army when that is possible. Unstable or unusable weapons and ammunition are destroyed, Rumsfeld said.

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