Fighters, Bombers not Only Planes Flying in Afghanistan
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2001 It takes more than just fighters and bombers to wage a successful air war, a senior DoD official said.
Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem told Pentagon press today that military pilots make many flights besides bombing runs in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Stufflebeem is the Joint Staff's deputy director of operations for current readiness and capabilities.
"We have other aircraft that fly intelligence missions as well as tankers and support aircraft," Stufflebeem said. He said he doesn't have specific numbers of support flights, but that his background as an F-14 pilot tells him numerous tankers are needed to refuel the planes that actually drop the bombs.
"These are long missions. I have seen reports that some aircrews are flying missions in durations of 10 to 13 hours," Stufflebeem said. "Any aircraft that's going to spend that much time airborne either loitering or in distance travel is going to need fuel."
He estimated up to a dozen tankers are needed to support each day's bombing runs. The admiral said other types of aircraft support the operation in other ways as well, such as intelligence gatherers.
He showed reporters several still and video images from recent operations. A set of photos showed before and after images of an Al Qaeda terrorist training camp near Kandahar that has been damaged in recent attacks.
"Al Qaeda used to use this facility to train terrorists in small-unit combat operations," Stufflebeem said. "Much of the facility was damaged or destroyed over the course of the past couple weeks."
Three video clips showed Taliban armored vehicles being destroyed by F-14 and F-18 strike aircraft over the past two days. One of the weapons system videos was taken near Mazar-e-Sharif, and the other two were from near Kandahar, Stufflebeem said.
Forces in the region reached a milestone in humanitarian support to the Afghan people Oct. 30. C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft dropped more than 34,000 humanitarian daily rations, bringing the total delivered to more than a million so far, he said.