Rumsfeld: Don't Expect 'Instant Victory' In Anti-Terror War
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2001 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today figuratively flung down the gauntlet in response to recent media reports suggesting the Afghan military campaign is bogged down or somehow floundering.
The air campaign, started Oct. 7 to root out Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda network of terrorists and Taliban supporters from Afghanistan, is just over three weeks old, Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon.
The ruins of the New York World Trade Center "are still smoking," he emphasized, adding that defeating terrorists in Afghanistan and the broader war against global terrorism are tasks "that will take time to accomplish."
Rumsfeld said he had outlined several goals at the Oct. 7 start of the air campaign in Afghanistan:
- To convince the Taliban that harboring terrorists carries a price.
- To obtain intelligence information to be used in future operations against Al Qaeda and Taliban
- To develop fruitful relationships with anti-Taliban and anti-Al Qaeda groups in Afghanistan.
- To increasingly make Afghanistan an unattractive base of operations for terrorists.
- To alter the military balance between the Taliban and opposition forces by denying to the Taliban offensive military systems that hampers the progress of various opposition forces.
- To provide humanitarian relief to Afghans suffering oppressive living conditions under the Taliban regime.
"We have made measurable progress on each of these goals," Rumsfeld said.
Yesterday's air operations in Afghanistan "focused on destroying command-and-control elements, whether in bunkers, tunnels, or caves," said Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accompanying the defense secretary at the press conference.
American air operations also concentrated on reducing Taliban military ground forces in Afghanistan, Myers added. He said eight planned target areas were hit around the Afghan cities of Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul, Kandahar and other "engagement zones" within the country.
About 55 strike aircraft were used in the attacks, he said, including approximately 40 carrier-based jets, between 4-6 land-based tactical aircraft and about 8-10 long-range bombers.
Myers said two C-17 aircraft yesterday delivered about 34,000 food rations to needy persons in northern Afghanistan for a total of about 1,062,000 rations delivered since Oct. 7.
Commando Solo radio broadcasts and leaflet missions were conducted near Mazar-e Sharif, Myers noted.
Myers showed combat imagery depicting F-14 and F-18 aircraft successfully attacking a cave complex near the Afghan capital city of Kabul. He said Al Qaeda and the Taliban used the caves as secure locations for personnel, and to store ammunition and equipment.
America's fight against terrorism "is much broader, than in simply defeating Taliban or Al Qaeda" in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld noted.
"It is to root out the global terrorist networks, not just in Afghanistan, but wherever they are, to ensure that they cannot threaten the American people or our way of life," he emphasized.
America and its allies are now "fighting a new kind of war," Rumsfeld noted, that is in many ways different from other conflicts from the past.
"But, as I have said, one of those differences is not the possibility of instant victory or instant success." He expressed confidence that victory over the forces of global terrorism is inevitable, noting the battle will require that "every element of American influence and power be engaged."
Americans, he emphasized, "have seen tougher adversaries than this before, and they've had the staying power to defeat them."
Underestimating the strength and resolve of the American people "is a big mistake," Rumsfeld said, adding, "In the end, war is not about statistics, deadlines, short attention spans, or 24-hour news cycles.
Winning the war against global terrorism "is about will, the projection of will," said Rumsfeld.
"The clear, unambiguous determination of the President of the United States and the American people is to see this through to certain victory," he said.