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Aerial Strikes Weaken Taliban, Terrorists, Says Rumsfeld

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2001 – About 25 U.S. military planes struck Taliban and terrorist targets in Afghanistan yesterday, as the military campaign against global terrorism enters its second week.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Pentagon reporters today that air attacks in Afghanistan since Oct. 7 have disrupted Taliban and Al Queda network communications, destroyed terrorist training camps and airfields, knocked out many air defense and command-and-control nodes and pulverized ground-based aircraft and vehicles.

"We have weakened the Taliban military and damaged -- but certainly have not eliminated -- their air defense capabilities and we have worked over a number, if not all, of their terrorist training camps," Rumsfeld said.

Those camps, Rumsfeld noted, "have been locations where terrorists spread across the globe have been trained."

Myers said yesterday's U.S. air attacks involved about 15 carrier-based planes and 10 land-based bombers. He acknowledged that 5,000-pound penetration bombs had been used with effect on some underground cave strongholds.

Rumsfeld remarked that the Taliban still have some jet fighters, transport aircraft and helicopters. The air campaign, he added, would continue today.

Photos and film displayed at the news briefing showed that surface-to-air missile sites in southern Afghanistan had been taken out, anti-aircraft emplacements and vehicles in Jalalabad were destroyed, planes were blown up on an airfield near Herat and two air transport planes were destroyed at the Kabul airfield.

Officials said the C-17s flew no humanitarian missions on Oct. 11.

Rumsfeld emphasized that the campaign against terrorism doesn't only involve the United States and isn't limited to Afghanistan. Besides military methods, he added, the anti- terror fight is also operating on diplomatic, economic and law enforcement fronts.

There has been "a very aggressive law enforcement effort taking place simultaneously," Rumsfeld remarked, "not just by the United States, but by any number of countries that are participating in various cooperative efforts that are taking place."

He said the United States and its allies have also been successful in weakening terrorists' financial capabilities. "Not with large numbers or large sums as yet, but increasing sums every day."

Progress has also been made on the diplomatic front, Rumsfeld said.

"All of which contributes to the weakening of the terrorists" and their networks, he added.

The goal of the worldwide anti-terror campaign, as defined by President Bush, "is to deal with the terrorists, to deal with the terrorist networks and to deal with those countries that harbor terrorists," Rumsfeld said.

Although he doesn't know how long the campaign will take, Rumsfeld said victory over terrorism would be apparent when Americans and other freedom loving peoples "can go about their business without being subject to terrorist attacks."

The war has claimed an American casualty since it began Oct. 7, when Air Force Master Sgt. Evander Earl Andrews was killed Oct. 10 in a heavy equipment accident on deployment, according to an Air Force news release. Andrews, from Solon, Maine, was assigned to the 366th Civil Engineer Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The accident is under investigation.

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