Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2001 - 1:31 p.m. EST
(Also participating was Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Slides and videos shown in this briefing are on the Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2001/g011121-D-6570C.html )
Wolfowitz: Good afternoon.
I guess you know Secretary Rumsfeld is visiting Fort Bragg today to meet with some of the outstanding Special Operations forces that we have in our military. All of us in the department are very proud of what their colleagues are doing in Afghanistan, both in the air and on the ground. In a moment I'll ask General Pace to give you an update on the campaign.
Let me just say that our work in Afghanistan continues. Our objectives remain the same, which is to eliminate the al Qaeda network, to eliminate Afghanistan as a sanctuary for terrorists, and to end the Taliban leadership. I'm told, I didn't see it, that the -- some Taliban gave a press conference today in which they suggested that we should forget about September 11th and move on. And I can assure them we will not forget about September 11th. We are moving on, and I think before long, the world will forget about the Taliban.
But we have to be patient here. I think it's the president who said this is a group with a lot of patience. We need it. There's still a lot of work to be done in Afghanistan and a lot of work beyond Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan, we are, I think, making progress in consolidating in Mazar-e Sharif, where now our mission is increasingly one of preparing the way for significant humanitarian aid. We've been joined by advance parties from France and from Jordan, with the ultimate goal, among other things, of setting up a field hospital in Mazar. The land bridge across the river is not yet open, but barges are flowing. The level of humanitarian aid keeps increasing, and the numbers are quite spectacular. Our own drops have now reached the level of 1.6 million individual rations, along with several tons of food that we have airlifted into Pakistan and Turkmenistan.
We've also been coordinating closely with the U.N. and the World Food Program, who have liaison offices down in Tampa, and the result has been that October, which was, of course, a pretty intensive month of warfare, we also reached a record level of deliveries, some 30,000 metric tons of food, which was more than the World Food Program had delivered into Afghanistan in a single month.
But apparently they keep their quotas from mid-month to mid-month, and as of mid-November, for the first time ever, they had achieved their goal of 50,000 metric tons a month. So in spite of the heavy level of fighting and the high number of sorties that we're flying, we're also clearing the way for significant humanitarian assistance.
I think it's worth emphasizing that this whole operation is clearly one that is bringing great relief to the people of Afghanistan, and I think it's increasingly clear that this was not a war against Afghanistan; if anything, it was a war on behalf of the Afghan people, who seem to be everywhere greeting the removal of the Taliban as an act of liberation.
I just want to say a word about the outstanding forces that we have who are contributing to this campaign. They include some extraordinary pilots, extraordinary air and naval capabilities, extraordinary men on the ground. I think the secretary has shown you the picture of the man on horseback that has helped to guide our enemy -- guide our bombers to enemy targets. And it is truly transformational to have cavalry that are able to call in long-range air strikes. It's, I think, the kind of thing that has given us huge leverage in this campaign.
So as we see Thanksgiving tomorrow, we, as a country, I think, have a great deal to be thankful for. We are blessed to live in this free nation, and we are very much blessed with the outstanding men and women in uniform who serve this country so nobly and so faithfully. And I would like to introduce one of them, General Peter Pace.
Q: Are you giving riding lessons to our troops, Mr. Secretary?
Wolfowitz: (laughing) I'd like to take a few riding lessons myself.
Pace: Thank you, sir.
Just to each of you in this room and your families, first, a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow, and if I may join with the secretary in wishing the men and women of our armed forces, who serve us so well around the world, and their families here at home very special thanks for what you are doing. We will enjoy tomorrow in freedom, thanks to what you are doing.
And some of those are doing a spectacular job for us in Afghanistan. They continued yesterday to provide support to the opposition forces, primarily in and around Kunduz up north, and they're in and around Kandahar down south.
About 90 to 100 aircraft strikes were flown in support of the opposition forces. Some of that was not as effective as it might have been otherwise because of the weather. You could not see some of the targets, could not strike some of the targets. But we will continue to prosecute those as we can.
Also, we were able to continue to strike the cave and tunnel complexes, where the leadership may be hiding. As the secretary noted, we also delivered humanitarian rations yesterday, and we delivered upwards of 200,000 leaflets, and also the Commando Solo broadcasts encouraging those folks on the ground to turn over the leadership of the Taliban and the leadership of the al Qaeda network.
We do have four videos for you today from this past weekend. The first video is a strike on a tank. That star in the upper left-hand part of the picture is a previous strike. You can see the cross hairs there. That tank is eliminated.
Your second video coming up will be a strike on two fuel tanks -- tanker trucks. The target is the front truck, as you can see, but it is in such close proximity to the other that they both are eliminated.
The third video is of an armored personnel carrier that is in between two buildings. And, again, precision strike here is very important.
And the last is one of several strikes on a series of vehicles that you'll see here parked at what we believe is a maintenance facility.
And with that, we'll stop for your questions.
Q: Mr. Secretary, may I use what's become almost a precedent here and ask each one of you a question? And not in order of priority, but General Pace, you talked about the air strikes yesterday -- 90 to 100. That sort of contradicts what we believe we were told by Admiral Stufflebeem yesterday, that the air strikes are on hold or on call. Can you clarify that for us?
Pace: To be precise, we had about 90 to 100 aircraft that were available, flying over the territory of Afghanistan, capable of striking. Some of those were able to see through the cloud and attack targets, some were not. The exact number, I do not know.
Q: But we're not on a bombing hold based on the negotiations taking place in Kunduz and Kandahar?
Pace: No, no. Not at all. There's no bombing halt at all. What we do is provide support for the opposition forces, and of course, if one of the opposition leaders asks us not to hit a particular facility during a particular time, we would take that into consideration. But the campaign to continue to bomb and to eliminate the Taliban forces in the field continues.
Q: Mr. Secretary, there are so-called pundits in this town who --
Wolfowitz: Yes. Pundits.
Q: -- an avowed hawk, and say that you are pressing very hard on the third deck here to go after Saddam Hussein and Iraq, thinking now's the time and it's a target of opportunity. Can we get your reaction? And if we do go after Iraq, that's going to be a tough fight now.
Wolfowitz: As you know, we don't discuss future operations. But I think the more important part is, I think we are all very much focused on the work that remains to be done in Afghanistan, which is substantial. And I mean, I'll say it again, I've said it before -- this is a president who encourages debate among advisors, encourages having options presented to him, has no hesitation to make decisions. He has set some very clear guidance as to where we're focused now, and that is in Afghanistan, and we're very far from finished there. And it's -- you know, it was only a couple weeks ago, the same pundits were saying, "Why is it taking so long? You're going to be there next summer." And now they're saying, "What are you going to do tomorrow?" Well, tomorrow we're going to continue pursuing Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But it --
Q: Just a quick follow up, if I may. But the president and the secretary have said, too, that we're going to go after countries that harbor terrorism -- countries plural. And everybody's saying there are 40, 50, 60 al Qaeda cells around the world. So one would assume that --
Wolfowitz: I think it's your word to go after "countries." What he -- they have both said, and I think we've said consistently as an administration, is our goal is to eliminate those global terrorist networks and to stop the support that states give them.
Now there are various waysyou can go after states. You can persuade them. I would think, in fact, any number of states that have supported terrorism in the past would look at the example of the Taliban and think that maybe that's not a terribly good line of business to be in.
Q: In the hunt for Osama bin Laden, a couple of things have come to light today. You quoted the Taliban official saying one thing. He also said that the Taliban no longer knows where Osama bin Laden is, and they are no longer connected. Number one, there's a Saudi newspaper indicating that bin Laden has left instructions for his people that if he is -- if the U.S. closes in on him, he would like them to kill him and that he has prerecorded a videotape message to his followers afterwards.
Does all of this begin to suggest something to you about the thinking that bin Laden must have at this time, as the U.S. begins closing in?
Wolfowitz: I think it does suggest that this is a man on the run, that this is a man who is being deserted by the same people who sheltered him not so long ago, that this is a man with a price on his head, and there are an increasing number of people in Afghanistan, I think, who may like to collect that reward, and any number of people who were associated with him in the past who are trying to say they had nothing to do with him. I don't think any of that is good for his future prospects.
Q: And -- I mean, you are exploring what may be his mental state. Do you feel that the U.S. is in fact -- I mean, we go through this exercise every day; you don't have him until you have him -- but your assessment of where the U.S. is at this point?
Wolfowitz: Well -- (chuckles) -- you say we go through the exercise every day. I mean, we keep looking for him every day. But it's also important to emphasize I think there's a danger in the fascination with bin Laden, which is totally understandable, that we might forget that there is a whole network outside of Afghanistan -- there's a whole network that we have to get rid of; it's more than just bin Laden. So at the same time that we're hunting him, we're hunting down that whole network, and not just in Afghanistan but in the 59 other countries where they've burrowed in.
Q: You talk about the substantial work to be done in Afghanistan, but can you talk about how the fall of -- potential fall of Kunduz and Kandahar would bring you closer to the end? I mean, I'm wondering if you have a lot of evidence that Taliban fighters and al Qaeda fighters have indeed fled into the hills, and so leaving -- you know, the fall of the two cities would still leave substantial work in the mountains. I'm wondering if you can talk on that.
Wolfowitz: The impression I have from the intelligence I see every day is that substantial concentrations are still in those cities. They may be planning to head to the hills, but so far the indications are not of large numbers heading to the hills.
That's one of the reasons why we would like to kill as many as we can or capture them while they're in places where they can be located. Some of them are going to head for the hills. I think larger numbers are going to say, "It wasn't me. I'm now on the winning side." And that is a tradition in Afghanistan, and it's something that will have to be watched. But I think when we say there's substantial work to be done, if those two cities can be taken and opposition control can be consolidated over the various regions of Afghanistan, then we'll have a very different situation in which we can continue the hunt for the remnants that remain.
Q: On that same topic --
Q: Mr. -- excuse me, Mr. Secretary? In what ways will states that sponsor terrorism be expected to credibly demonstrate to Washington that they no longer sponsor terrorism in order to avoid sharing in the terrorists' fate? And I have a follow up.
Wolfowitz: I think it was Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when asked to define pornography said, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." And I think we will know it when we see countries out of the business of sponsoring terrorism.
Quick follow up?
Q: Okay. You said recently that states that sponsor terror also terrorize their own people and that those people will become U.S. allies. As the U.S. works to enlarge the sphere of freedom for Muslim nations, does the liberation of these terrorized people become a moral imperative in the war on terror?
Wolfowitz: I guess you're several steps beyond me. I just think that one of the things these regimes have got to fear is the hatred of their own people toward them. And we've seen, I think, in Afghanistan how the hatred of the people for the Taliban has been something that has worked in our favor and worked against the Taliban. And I think that is a strategic principle, if not a moral one. It may be a moral one, as well, that I think we can work to our advantage.
Q: You just spoke about large numbers of Taliban and al Qaeda people holed up in Kunduz and Kandahar. Have you got a slightly more precise estimate of the number?
Wolfowitz: No. We have very imprecise estimates. They come from so many different sources. And I hope you understand this is not something you can take a photograph and define. So a lot of our attempts to estimate numbers come from what -- from human sources that are notoriously variable and unreliable.
Q: Would you say it's in the thousands in both -- in each place?
Wolfowitz: I would say it's in the low thousands, but that's a wild guess.
Q: Can you detail the Navy's plans to intercept merchant shipping in the north Arabian Sea?
Wolfowitz: You want to speak to that, General Pace?
Pace: Sure. As part of our right of self-defense, we, as part of the international community, have the authority and the ability to track and, in those cases where we're sure or we have indications that there are either contraband or criminals aboard ship, the opportunity to interdict those ships. This is not something that is new. This is something that we have been doing in the Gulf for 10 years, in the case of contraband.
And the process is a very disciplined process and is done in cooperation with our friends in the region. When we are cued to a particular ship, for example, by some kind of intelligence, then we track that vessel. That vessel is then queried, either by radio or by signal light while we're at sea. They are asked to stop. If they stop and we board them and there's nothing contraband there, they're allowed to go on their way. If there is contraband, then they're taken to a nearby port and the contraband is off-loaded. So the process has been executed now for the past 10 years and will continue to be so.
Q: General, have we seized any ships at this point?
Pace: I'm sorry, the question?
Q: (off mike) -- any ships at this point?
Q: How many have you interdicted recently, sir?
Pace: I think I'll make a distinction for you, and that is the distinction of what was in the paper today or yesterday about chasing potential Taliban and al Qaeda operatives. The answer there is zero to date. In the northern Arabian Sea, where we've been doing this for 10 years, I have to get back to you with the answer. But this is an ongoing process where literally every week there are ships that are stopped and searched and contraband is off-loaded.
Q: Is there a reason, though, that these interdiction operations have begun off the coast of Pakistan? Is there specific intelligence to suggest that these guys are fleeing via ship?
Pace: Well, the indications that we have now are that we are, in fact, closing in on the remaining Taliban concentrations, Kunduz and Kandahar; therefore, the amount of real estate available in Afghanistan for the al Qaeda leaders to feel safe is being reduced. And as a precautionary measure, as you would expect us to, we are looking at how they might try to flee the country. One way they might try to flee is by ship, so we're making sure we have the assets in place to handle that if it happens.
Q: There's no specific indication that they are fleeing by ship at this point.
Pace: That's correct.
Q: Secretary Wolfowitz, one question, a quicky, for General Pace, and then for you. Are Navy SEALs being used currently to potentially interdict ships over there?
Pace: I can't tell you the exact procedures that we use, but in fact there are trained servicemembers and law enforcement members who have the authority and the responsibility to carry out these missions.
Q: Secretary Wolfowitz, every day we've heard about the Pentagon going after al Qaeda and Taliban leadership. Can you walk us through the military case for targeting and going after the leadership?
In some cases in history, when an organization loses its leaders, others step in and they don't lose much of a beat.
Does the Pentagon feel that if you decapitate al Qaeda and Taliban, there's not a second echelon of leaders that will just step in and almost seamlessly continue operations?
Wolfowitz: Well, in the case of al Qaeda, we are under no illusions that there are -- I mean, that's why we keep emphasizing it's not just Afghanistan, it's everywhere else. And you could completely decapitate al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and we would still be concerned about their networks elsewhere. And your point about people stepping in behind is an absolutely valid one.
I think in the case of Taliban it's quite different. I think the more one can make an example of the leaders, the more the followers will desert, and that's a process that seems to be taking place as we speak.
Q: General Pace, a couple of quick questions. First, can you confirm that the Global Hawk is in use, as of today? Or if not, when it will be?
And second, as the war -- the focus of the war shifts more to hunting al Qaeda leadership, how is the mix of forces that you are going to be drawing on changing -- or General Franks is going to be drawing on changing?
Pace: First of all, with regard to Global Hawk, yes, it is in theater; it is flying. It is still very much in the research and development phase of its development. But in fact, this theater now provides us a tremendous laboratory in which to use it, so it is flying and it will be part of our ability to collect information and intelligence.
And with regard to your second question, as the battlefield condenses, and as there's fewer forces in opposition to each other on the battlefield, what you'll have then will be your remnants of your leaders who have taken to the hills, perhaps, for some kind of refuge. How exactly we will go about those next steps are things that I would not want to get into in this forum. But, in fact, we do have plans for the next steps in our prosecution of this war. We have taken this in a very measured way from the beginning stages, on 7 October. And as we apply the military power and we see the results we see, it allows us to adjust.
At the same time we're adjusting, the other guys are adjusting. So this is not a set-piece battle, but it's something that you learn and you improve through iteration.
Q: But logically, the mix of forces needs to change as you go into that different phase?
Pace: It could, it could change. But I think we have the necessary forces available to the commander in chief to do the mission that he's been assigned.
Q: Mr. Secretary, can you tell us if you and Secretary Rumsfeld have made a decision about the creation of a homeland CINC, and, if so, what that decision is, and if not, when you will make it?
Wolfowitz: We haven't made any decision yet. We are looking at the various options here, and clearly, there's a very important set of issues that have to be considered and a very new priority that has to be assigned to homeland defense. But we're thinking this through very carefully, and I would not think it wise for me to give the secretary a deadline.
Q: Mr. Secretary, on that topic, can you confirm that NORAD and Joint Forces Command in Norfolk are among those that are being considered as the possible home for those CINCs? And can you talk about the advantages and disadvantages of having an aerospace kind of command looking at all these other type of non-aerospace functions?
Wolfowitz: I don't think I want to get into the pros and cons of different command arrangements. NORAD and Joint Forces Command are currently the two commanders with the operational responsibility until we come up with a more permanent arrangement, and obviously, therefore, anything you think about in terms of permanent arrangements is going to take some account of their current responsibilities.
Q: What is the analysis of some of those samples of apparently things labeled biological or chemical weapons that have been found in Kabul and other places in Afghanistan? Is there an analysis yet? Sarin?
Pace: As you know, we have a series of facilities that are on our list of places to go visit and check. We have taken samples at some of those facilities, and those samples are in the process of being analyzed right now. We do not have data back on that. Specifically, though, on that one place where there was the only vial that had English on it -- said "anthrax" -- kind of gives you pause -- but we are doing it step by step, and we are going to have the analysis and don't have that yet.
Q: Can I follow on that? The other report we have is just south of Jalalabad two of the journalists that were murdered reported seeing what appeared to be vials of sarin gas, stored within a known -- (inaudible) -- facility. Is that one of the ones that U.S. personnel have visited, and secondly, do you know if that site was bombed?
Pace: I cannot confirm -- I -- the only thing I have about the sarin gas is exactly what you just said, which is amply reported in the newspapers. And that is all I know about that particular subject right now.
We do, however, have a list of facilities that we think might have been used for the production of chemical or biological weapons, and we are going to visit those locations to determine, through soil sampling and the like, whether or not we can determine if something like that had taken place. But we don't have that yet.
Q: And do you know if that farm was bombed?
Pace: I do not know.
Q: Mr. Secretary, I was wondering if any of the coalition forces entering into Afghanistan right now have among their missions to stabilize the situation or prevent the Northern Alliance from taking any preemptive actions to effectively administer or establish a government for Afghanistan.
Wolfowitz: I don't think any of our forces, including our own, have missions to preempt the Northern Alliance. We are giving, through both our military people and our CIA people in Afghanistan, some very strong advice as to what we think is best for the future of Afghanistan. And frankly, we believe that the Northern Alliance commanders have learned some useful lessons from the unhappy history of a few years ago.
But the main purpose of the new forces that are coming in to help us is to set up Mazar-e Sharif and Bagram as functioning facilities from which we can continue our operations and continue humanitarian relief.
Q: Sir -- actually, for General Pace, there's been some mention of the issue of low-flying aircraft possibly spiriting out of Afghanistan some of the leaders that you're looking for. Have there been any cases yet where such aircraft have been spotted and either shot or forced down?
Pace: In the last several weeks, we have destroyed two or three more aircraft. Whether or not they had anyone on board fleeing we do not know.
Q: Those flying aircraft, not --
Pace: Correct. We do have -- correction. I'm not 100 percent sure that they were flying. I do know we have destroyed two or three more in the last couple of weeks. I do not know whether or not they were flying at the time they were destroyed.
We also have, as you know, the JSTARS aircraft that is capable of tracking that kind of movement.
Q: On tunnels and caves, does the United States have the kind of embedded capability that it developed during World War II, during Vietnam, to specialize in going into tunnels, caves, analyzing it, fighting in it? Do we have that special -- (inaudible) -- any more in the ranks?
Pace: Our specialized approach to caves and tunnels is to put 500-pound bombs in the entrance.
Q: Mr. Secretary, could you bring us up to date on to what extent the U.S. believes that the Iraqis have rebuilt their weapons of mass destruction since the U.N.'s inspections ceased and tell us also, you know, how great our concern about that is?
Wolfowitz: One of the basic problems with the end of the inspections is that we're left to guess about a great deal that we were on the trail of before. But there is not only every reason to assume that they are continuing aggressively in all those programs, but we see a good deal of evidence -- chemical, biological, and even nuclear -- that the Iraqis are working both with their indigenous capabilities and acquiring what they can illicitly in the international market.
Q: This summer there was some discussion that by the end of the 78-day Kosovo air war, something like three quarters of the headquarters staff running it was in place. Have we improved that ability, or are we to presume that about 45 days into it, you've got about half a staff running the war?
Wolfowitz: I think we've been too busy to keep statistics. Do you have any idea, Pete?
Pace: The central command and its subordinate Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps commands are the commands that exist in peacetime and in war. And there have certainly been augmentation to that staff, meaning we've added additional personnel. But that is very different from what happened in Kosovo, where an entirely new command structure was built and staffed.
Q: Mr. Secretary, Secretary Rumsfeld has just said there are Chinese fighters in Afghanistan. Could you clarify what kind of fighters are they and what proof you have to say that they are there?
Wolfowitz: I haven't seen his statement so I'm hesitant to comment on it. There are reports of people, of Uighur ethnic origin included among some of the al Qaeda fighters, and I'm assuming that if he said so, that's probably what he's referring to.
Q: A couple quick questions. First one, you say Global Hawk is in place, even though it's still in the research and development phase. How is it working for you so far?
Pace: It's only been flying missions now for a day or so.
Wolfowitz: So far, so good.
Pace: So far, so good.
Q: Has it helped flying?
Pace: Every bit of information we get helps us.
Q: And the second question has to do with the comments yesterday from this podium about the Marines and their possible use. The answer was that basically they're in place, they're ready. Should General Franks want to use them, they could be deployed, but no confirmation of the deployment. Should they be deployed and should General Franks say that he wants them, what are the particular skills that they bring to the battlefront that you would need?
Pace: Marines are very good -- (laughter) -- at fighting. (Laughter.) And if General Franks wants fighters on the ground and he puts his Marines in, he will have what he wants.
Q: Can I do a follow up on that, General? The two MEUs offshore are SOC qualified -- Special Operations qualified. That's a little different from your normal fighting -- war-fighting, killing Marine. Can you go into those specialties a little bit and what assets they would bring to the fray if they were employed?
Wolfowitz: Actually, I would phrase it a little differently. It's not different, it's just part of what your Marine forces bring to the battle now. They are Special Operations capable units, but there's a differentiation between the very specialized capabilities of our Special Operations Command and the types of capabilities that your Marines bring to the battlefield; both capable forces, both very complementary, but your Marines would be more in an area coverage and they would be capable of providing not only terminal guidance to our aircraft but, in fact, on closing with and killing the enemy.
Q: They would be in larger numbers, perhaps, in the Special Operations forces?
Pace: There would by definition be larger numbers in this capability that the CINC has.
Q: Thank you.
Q: General Pace, as you know, one of the troubles of fighting in southern Afghanistan is it's a region with an excessive amount of land mines. I'm wondering how much intelligence you have about where mines are located, whether any of the Pashtun tribes are helping out in that regard. And how big a concern is that before you decide to put any more forces in, if you do decide to do that?
Pace: Again, if a commander were to take his force on the ground -- and again, that's a decision to be made by the commander in chief of the Central Command in coordination and as approved by the National Command Authorities, so I'm not at all confirming one way or the other they would have them -- but if there were ground forces to go in, obviously something a commander would want to know is as much as he could about the mines. And you would get either through reconnaissance of your own forces or through the cooperation of local villagers or tribesmen who may have already been on our side or who switched sides. So that's something that you are very concerned about. But you need then to know what area you're going to go to and then start developing the intelligence, what we call the intelligence preparation of the battlefield, all the information that you would want as a commander before you put your feet on the ground.
Q: Are you getting that right now? Are you beginning to get some of that local intelligence?
Pace: I would expect that if there were going to be an operation, that the commander who was responsible for that would be gathering that kind of information.
Q: Going back to the first couple weeks of operations, when you're relying more on long-range bombers, this, of course, coincides with the QDR, which said we should have more of them. Did you find that there were inadequate numbers of long-range strike capabilities? Would you have altered the mix between TACAIR and long-range bombers had you had more long-range bombers available? I'm just wondering for some kind of retrospection.
Pace: I think it's too soon for retrospection. I certainly have spent none of my time looking back, and all of it looking forward. And I think those questions are valid questions, but I think they deserve the kind of analysis that will take place before we make any pronouncements on that.
Q: General Pace, can I ask you a quick follow-up on Global Hawk? What capability does this high-flying drone give you that you don't have from Predator, JSTARS and even AWACS? Just give us a quick tutorial.
Pace: I cannot give you a tutorial. What I can tell you is that this particular airframe flies higher and can fly longer, and that its specific capabilities are fed into the picture that we get from Predator, from JSTARS, from our other collection platforms.
So we have, naturally, just like if we added another Predator, we have more pictures, we have more information on what it is that the battlefield looks like. But I cannot tell you the specifics of the classified packages that are on board.
Q: Is it fair to say that this is going to help tighten the electronic noose around al Qaeda? We're hearing about this noose tightening. Is this some of the technology that will allow that noose to be tightened?
Pace: I wouldn't use a "noose tightening." Those are your words, not mine. I would tell you that this is one more tool in the commander-in-chief's toolbox that will help him do his job.
Wolfowitz: This is the last one.
Q: General Pace, the Northern Alliance has continued to say they will allow a negotiated exit from Afghanistan of non-Afghan forces. Given the secretary's expressed displeasure with that outcome, what message did General Franks send to the Northern Alliance leaders, when he met with them yesterday, about that?
Pace: First of all, I have not had any confirmation of what you said about what the opposition forces are saying is in fact what they are saying, so I cannot comment on that.
I do know that General Franks has had face-to-face conversations with General Fahim in and around the Bagram airfield. He has had face-to-face conversations with General Dostam in and around Mazar-e Sharif. That he has explained to them our needs, and received from them their needs, and among other things, has emphasized the fact that if there are prisoners, that they be humanely treated. But the specifics of those conversations, I'm not privy to at this point.
Q: Thank you.
Q: Have a nice Thanksgiving.
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