Franks Vows: 'No U.S. Occupying Force in Afghanistan'
By Linda Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2001 The United States doesn't intend to maintain an "occupying force" in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Tommy Franks said today.
During a video-teleconference from Tampa, Fla., the Central Command commander told reporters there and at the Pentagon that Operation Enduring Freedom was launched to accomplish three main goals: to destroy the terrorist Al Qaeda network inside Afghanistan, take out the "illegitimate" Taliban government, and provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people who had been ill treated for a long time.
"We have never believed that we would remain inside Afghanistan, and to this day, I would tell you the same thing," Franks stressed. "We will not remain in Afghanistan, although I suspect we -- our country -- will remain engaged with the people in Afghanistan to help them have a better life."
U.S. officials expect an international interim security assistance force would be in Kabul possibly by the end of the month, Franks said. He noted that the inauguration of the interim government is slated for Dec. 22, 2001.
A British military official said his country is prepared in principle to initially lead the security assistance force. A coordination conference took place in London today. A reconnaissance team is set depart for Kabul and report back on their findings, the British official said.
"There are a lot of details to sort out," he said. "It's important that we get it right."