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Central Command Can Call More Troops if Needed

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2002 – While the U.S. Central Command chief is satisfied with the type and level of American troops in Afghanistan, if he needs more he can call on them, said a Joint Staff spokesman.

Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem said Army Gen. Tommy Franks could move whatever forces he needs in and out of the theater of operations. "He'll do what he needs to do," Stufflebeem said of Franks. "Right now, he's happy with who he has and what they're doing."

DoD officials said a squad-sized U.S. unit conducted the raid on Hazar Qadam Jan. 24. "It was a relatively small group" of U.S. forces, Stufflebeem said. The group killed several enemies and captured 27 detainees.

U.S. forces launched the raid on the compound after intelligence information revealed that the area might hold some level of Taliban or Al Qaeda leadership. While U.S. officials knew there was a cache of munitions in the area, they were surprised at how large it was. Stufflebeem said the U.S. forces found more than 400 60mm mortar rounds, more than 300 rocket-propelled grenades, 300 100mm rockets and thousands of rocket fuses. They also discovered more than 250 automatic grenade launcher rounds and 500,000 small arms rounds.

The U.S. ground forces called in an AC-130 gunship to destroy the munitions, Stufflebeem said.

CENTCOM forces are finding pockets of Taliban and Al Qaeda around Afghanistan. Where the pockets are located, forces will go in an eliminate them. Stufflebeem said these pockets consist of 20 to 30 individuals. Their ability to coordinate actions is severely limited. "The functioning of Al Qaeda has been clearly taken down in Afghanistan," Stufflebeem said. "The backbone of what gave them their communications capability is physically gone."

He said some limited communications capability does remain -- mostly via satellite phones.

Stufflebeem also said U.S. forces lost a Predator unmanned aerial vehicle in a landing accident. Enemy fire played no part in its loss, Central Command officials said. It is the third Predator lost in Afghanistan since the campaign began Oct. 7.

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