All Aircraft Return Safely; First Day of Attacks a Success
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2001 All U.S. aircraft participating in attacks on Afghanistan Oct. 7 returned to their bases safely, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the day's missions a success.
Speaking on morning TV news shows, Rumsfeld disputed Taliban claims that they had shot down American planes during the night. "No aircraft was hit. No aircraft was damaged," Rumsfeld told NBC News. "The allegation by Taliban that they shot down coalition aircraft is flat untrue."
Unmanned craft have been lost in recent days, however. "We have had unmanned aircraft that we have lost control of," he said. "Whether or not the Taliban had anything to do with that is an open question."
He also disagreed with Taliban statements that at least 100 civilians had been killed in the bombings. "The targets were carefully selected," Rumsfeld said. "Any people who were around those targets were (there) because they were part of the Al Queda and the Taliban military."
The secretary described the "two or three dozen" targets in more detail to CNN. "They were all military targets. They were military aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, military airports and runways," Rumsfeld said. "They were terrorist training camps. They were a host of things that are directly associated with the Al Queda and Taliban leadership.
He said the fight will not be a quick one, estimating it could take years to defeat terrorism. "There are a lot of people who have been trained in these terrorist training camps in many of the countries that sponsor terrorism that are already out there," Rumsfeld said in describing the problem. "They are organized; they have been financed. What we have to do is be patient. We have to recognize that the power of weapons today is such that they can impose enormous damage on free nations and free people."
He said victory wouldn't be declared until "people are free to go about their business."
"As long as people are making a business out of international terrorism and countries are harboring those international terrorists, people will not have that freedom," Rumsfeld said.