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Operation Mountain Lion Patrols, Weapons Seizures Continue

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2002 – U.S. and coalition forces' continued Operation Mountain Lion patrols in Afghanistan and have reaped "hundreds of thousands" of munitions in recent weeks, Joint Chiefs Chairman Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said today.

Myers and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke to Pentagon reporters this morning. Myers said several large caches of confiscated weapons have included large numbers of rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, small arms and small-arms rounds, grenades and mortars.

The chairman also noted the first battalion of the Afghan national army, being trained by U.S. and other coalition forces, is nearing the mid-point of its training cycle and that a second battalion is now beginning training.

Rumsfeld briefly described his overseas tour last week through Europe, the Middle East and South Asia. "Clearly there is broad understanding of the terrorist threats," he said of the countries he visited. "Many of those countries have experienced those threats."

Just days after his visit to Pakistan, Rumsfeld praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his willingness to root out al Qaeda terrorists from his country. Rumsfeld noted that Pakistan had moved two more companies of troops to its border with Afghanistan.

He said it's clear the Pakistanis understand the border is porous and that Taliban and al Qaeda crossed over. It's also clear Musharraf doesn't want Taliban and al Qaeda members milling around, and he's demonstrated that by rounding them up whenever they're found, Rumsfeld said.

The secretary said the high point of his trip was meeting with U.S. and coalition forces in Germany, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.

"Our troops are ready. They're enthusiastic and they're dedicated," Rumsfeld said. "We are indeed fortunate to have such truly outstanding young men and women voluntarily stepping forward to serve our country."

Rumsfeld and Myers both expressed their condolences to the families and friends of the two airmen and one soldier who were killed in an MC-130 plane crash in Afghanistan June 12.

"These service members served with honor so that our country can be free," Rumsfeld said.

"Clearly, our hearts and our thoughts go out to those families and friends," Myers added.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Briefing - Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers, June 17, 2002

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