|WAR ON TERRORISM|
DEC. 8, 2001 - JAN. 7, 2002
Last update 17 Jan. 2002
Gen. Wesley Clark: Pakistanis' role critical
Studying lessons of battle success
US expects Afghan peace force soon
Q&A: Afghan peacekeeping force
U.S. Loses Its 1st Serviceman to Enemy Fire
War plan shifts into 'peculiar twilight'
December 14, 2001
I think some al Qaeda will still try to break out, if they haven't already. Obviously, the path of easiest escape is through Pakistan, where the al Qaeda don't have to face the Americans or the people they've been fighting every day. It's a natural temptation, so the Pakistanis' role is critical. There are certain trails out of that region, but if you were Osama bin Laden, you wouldn't use a trail, would you? Wouldn't you just walk across the side of a mountain to get out? I certainly would.
As to whether bin Laden is still in Afghanistan, the administration has been very careful thus far not to let expectations run ahead of reality. If some officials are saying now that they think he's there, they must have some pretty good evidence beyond the fact that the al Qaeda fighters are fighting -- things that they haven't shared with us. My guess is that he's there, around Tora Bora.
Impact: Hopefully, the Pakistanis are in "perfect blocking position," as one U.S. official said, but I've been in too many military operations to ever take such an assertion at face value. It depends on so many things -- the discipline of the troops, their alertness, the insight of the chain of command. It's just so easy to make a mistake. That terrain is difficult to cover, especially at night. If people doze off at 3 o'clock in the morning, the al Qaeda are going to get away -- and that's typically going to happen in the field when armies get sleepy. So it's very difficult to maintain a perfect so-called picket.
But maybe bin Laden has never prepared an escape rout -- he and Taliban ruler Mullah Omar have done a lot of other dumb things. The Taliban are the least competent fighting force I think the United States has ever faced, in terms of their relative strength compared to us. And Osama bin Laden hasn't been very smart. In the videotape ... released Thursday, he's acting like he's perfectly safe even as his whole world was collapsing around him. He had a real misunderstanding of America, American fighting capabilities and American determination.
Tactics: There are basically two things being done with airpower. One, the AC-130s ... fly above the mountains, looking at them using infrared technology and optics. If they spot something, like a tunnel opening or al Qaeda position, they can call in airstrikes or use their own guns to wipe out enemy troops on the ground. They have small-caliber cannon, larger-caliber cannon, rapid-fire guns -- all very, very potent weapons and very accurate. They can see individual people walking on the ground and strike them.
And then you've got the bombers and the fighters delivering high explosives on designated points such as enemy centers of resistance, tunnel openings, ammo depots, tunnels and likely ambush points -- all thanks to the activities of and information provided them by special forces on the ground. So U.S. warplanes can strike throughout the area with impunity. It's a devastating combination.
The ground forces' goal is to move forward, fire, locate the enemy position, and then call in airpower to destroy the enemy. They're absolutely vital in all this. You could not find the enemy forces without the ground forces.
Strategy: Clearly, Osama bin Laden has to be surprised the way the local people have turned against him and have supported the Americans. And it should be clear that it's the Americans that are helping organize this. The assistance of the Eastern Alliance there, of course, is critical. But it's being guided and directed in large part by the Americans. Special forces teams on the ground provide assurance, provide airpower and use the technology to its advantage. We have to give our special forces troops a lot of credit, because they've spent a long time training to do this and they're doing it very well.
It's tough to say exactly how much ammunition, fighters or supplies al Qaeda now has at Tora Bora. But the movement forward of the Eastern Alliance fighters, the tightening circle around this enemy pocket -- that is measurable. The enemy would never fall back, on its own, into a smaller and smaller area, because it would make itself a smaller and smaller target, where more firepower can be concentrated. As this goes on, the likelihood of bin Laden escaping decreases.
Studying lessons of battle success
Technology brings new style of warfare
By Tom Bowman
Sun National Staff
Originally published December 17, 2001
WASHINGTON - From a ridge above the dusty Afghan village
of Tirin Kowt, Army Capt. Jason Amerine became part of a new American style of
The 30-year-old Green Beret officer, leading a dozen-member "A Team" and advising Pashtun rebels, called in U.S. airstrikes against a larger Taliban force. Hundreds of fighters and scores of vehicles were surging toward the town outside Kandahar.
Using sophisticated radios and range finders, Amerine
helped the U.S. pilots unleash their precision-guided bombs. Staggering to
regroup, the enemy troops were hammered again. The valley was soon littered with
burning trucks and Taliban fighters. The survivors gave up their arms, paving
the way for the fall of Kandahar.
Amerine later called last month's battle "our greatest victory." Military officers and defense analysts call it a turning point in modern warfare, a marriage of highly skilled soldiers and cutting-edge technology, akin to the martial revolutions spurred in centuries past by such innovative weapons as the heavy bow and the repeating rifle.
For the first time over a period of sustained combat, Amerine and other U.S. special operations soldiers on the ground were able to call in overwhelming numbers of precision bombs, some weighing thousands of pounds. Nearly 60 percent of the estimated 12,000 bombs used as of last week were precision munitions, a major increase from the nearly 35 percent dropped during the Kosovo campaign two years ago and the 10 percent that targeted Iraqi forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Never-before-used surveillance drones circled for up to 30 hours high above the battlefield, providing live video and still pictures. Their information - and other technologies not readily available even two years ago - directed pilots to emerging targets, providing precise coordinates. Moreover, one of those unmanned aircraft, the Predator, was armed, firing an anti-tank Hellfire missile at an enemy convoy, another first.
In addition to the new weaponry, the conflict has underscored the need for more rapidly deployed troops who can get to a battle in hours or days rather than months, as in the gulf war.
Michael Vickers, a former Green Beret officer and now an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, called the Afghanistan campaign "a new American way of war, a new operational concept."
"The use of long-range precision air power in conjunction with special forces on the ground and opposition forces is essential for overthrowing a government," said Vickers, insisting it produced an antiterror model that can be employed elsewhere.
President Bush, in his speech last week at the Citadel, the South Carolina military academy, called Afghanistan a "proving ground" for the "new tactics and new weapons" needed to defend America. The war has provided more valuable military lessons "than a decade of blue ribbon panels and think-tank symposiums," Bush declared.
Defense analysts and military officers agree there are particularly valuable lessons to be drawn from the current conflict.
Copyright © 2001, The Baltimore Sun
Monday, 17 December, 2001, 11:20 GMT
The first troops from an international peacekeeping force are expected to arrive in Afghanistan by the end of the week, a United States envoy has said.
James Dobbins, Washington's special envoy to Afghanistan, said on Monday that he anticipated "at least lead elements" of the force to reach the capital Kabul by 22 December, when the new interim government is due to take power.
He said he did not expect "a large number" of troops to be stationed in Kabul.
But US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Sunday that he expected 3,000 to 5,000 troops to be deployed in the whole of Afghanistan.
The US is not expected to provide peacekeeping troops.
General Mohammed Fahim, designated as the new government's defence minister, has said that no more than 1,000 peacekeepers were needed, and that they would merely provide security for the new administration.
But some Western countries have argued that about 8,000 troops will be necessary to maintain stability in and around Kabul, as the new interim government takes power.
There is also uncertainty about the mandate of the peacekeepers, which will be authorised by the United Nations.
Foreign Minister Dr Abdullah Abdullah has said he accepted the need for a multi-national peacekeeping contingent - but with restrictions on its ability to use force.
He wants the force to be deployed on the basis of Chapter Six of the UN Charter, which allows the use of force only for self-defence.
General Clark said the troops should have a Chapter Seven mandate, which would allow them to use force to carry out their mission.
Several countries planning to send troops are thought to agree with General Clark.
A Western military team arrived in Kabul on Sunday to urge the interim administration to accept a substantial international peacekeeping presence.
The party, led by British Major General John McColl, includes representatives from various other countries including France, Canada and Italy.
General McColl said on Sunday he hoped to "ensure a meeting of minds" with representatives of the future interim government on the issue.
He stressed that no decisions had been made on the suggested force.
General McColl said he had been "very encouraged" by what he had seen on his first day in the "peaceful" capital and was looking forward to his meetings.
The UN is still discussing the mechanics of setting up the force, and has not yet issued a resolution authorising its deployment. That is expected this week.
The force is being set up under the terms of the Bonn agreement between Afghan factions, which created a new post-Taleban political set-up for the country.
Britain has indicated it is prepared to lead such a force if asked, but will not make an official announcement until the team's return from its reconnaissance mission - expected on Wednesday.
Monday, 17 December, 2001, 17:59 GMT
The international community is working on the make-up and mandate for a peacekeeping force to be deployed in Afghanistan. The BBC's Paul Reynolds answers some of the key questions about the force.
When will the peacekeeping force be deployed?
The British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons on Monday that 1,000-1,500 British troops would take part in the force.
He hoped the first elements would be there by 22 December. That is the day when the new interim government takes over, as agreed in Bonn.
The symbolism of getting at least a token force in is obviously important. It would signal international support for the new government and give more physical confidence to those taking part.
But because time is so short, only about 100 soldiers are likely to get there in time.
There are some British Royal Marines standing by on a ship in the region and Britain could fly in a headquarters unit at very short notice. The main body of the force would follow later.
But first, detailed decisions have to be taken about the force's role and about which countries will take part.
Who will be in the force?
Britain will take part. Other countries invited to a special meeting in London last Friday were the United States, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Czech Republic, Jordan, Malaysia and Turkey.
The Americans are unlikely to contribute ground troops, but their logistical strengths might well be called on. They could also provide back-up if something goes wrong, such as medical evacuation or air support.
The main elements of the force are likely to be from western Europe, with troops from countries with Islamic populations like Turkey and Jordan sent to provide greater political balance.
Why is Britain leading the force?
Britain is likely to be in the lead because it has the experience of conducting peacekeeping operations.
The United States is reluctant these days to use its troops in a peacekeeping role, and, in any case, are still fighting the war.
Given that the Americans do not want to be in on the ground, the British are the next obvious candidates - and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair wants to be heavily involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
How many are going?
The US Defence Secretary says that 3,500 to 5,000 troops will be needed, though the Northern Alliance Defence Minister Mohammed Qasim Fahim says that only 1,000 are necessary.
The former Nato commander Wesley Clark says the number will have to be quite high to be effective.
Will they be welcomed?
The peacekeepers will be welcomed when they arrive, but the question is whether they will be welcome if they stay. Peacekeeping forces have a habit of becoming unpopular.
The timetable for the force is an important part of the discussions going on at the UN about its mandate. For the moment, though, reports from Afghanistan indicate that a war-weary population wants an international force and that the military leaders will accept one, however reluctantly.
Where will they be deployed?
Initially in Kabul, but the idea is that they should also be in the other major cities. The French, for example, will probably go to Mazar-e-Sharif, where they already have a detachment.
What exactly will they do?
One of the biggest issues under discussion is whether the force will have powers to intervene in inter-factional fighting, if there is any, or whether its role should simply be to provide a presence.
The outcome of these talks will help determine the size of the force. The more active the force, the bigger it will have to be.
There is also the issue of its armaments - should the peacekeepers be equipped with armoured personnel carriers? These would provide more protection but they would also have the look of occupation and interference.
The mandate of the force has yet to be clearly determined, which means it is also unclear how long it will be there. Peacekeeping forces have a habit of remaining in place for years, but Tony Blair says the thinking at the moment is that the force would be there for some months only.
|Los Angeles Times|
January 5, 2002
RESPONSE TO TERROR
By PAUL RICHTER and ALISSA J. RUBIN, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
WASHINGTON -- A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier was killed
Friday in a firefight in eastern Afghanistan, becoming the first U.S. service
member slain by enemy action in three months of warfare, Pentagon officials
The Green Beret was identified as Sgt. 1st Class Nathan R. Chapman, 31, of San Antonio, Texas, the Pentagon said. He was ambushed while on a mission with allied Afghan fighters near Khowst, where Al Qaeda fighters have congregated, officials said.
A CIA officer who was part of the same intelligence-gathering mission was seriously wounded in the fighting, although his injuries weren't considered life-threatening, officials said. Both were evacuated from the area by a U.S. military rescue team, officials said. The incident was a reminder that the Pentagon's precision-bombing techniques and other advanced technology have enabled the U.S. to wage massive military campaigns with remarkably few casualties. That the U.S. has been able to accomplish so much in Afghanistan with only one soldier killed by hostile fire "is a very powerful sign of American military strength," retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark said on CNN.
shifts into 'peculiar twilight'
As fighting dwindles, new hazards emerge for American troops
By Tom Bowman
Sun National Staff
Originally published January 7, 2002
WASHINGTON - American airstrikes in Afghanistan have slowed to a
trickle. Searches of caves around Tora Bora are nearing the end. A new and
improved cave-busting bomb slated for the front two weeks ago is now being held
Those developments and similar ones provide ample evidence that Operation Enduring Freedom, the U.S. military campaign against the Taliban and the al-Qaida terrorists, has entered a new phase, one that is more dogged, potentially hazardous and diplomatically sensitive.
The new face of the war is taking shape throughout the war-torn country. Small groups of American soldiers have joined Afghan fighters on raids and intelligence-gathering efforts, an open-ended effort that will likely take months and increase the possibility of casualties.
On Friday, an Army special operations soldier was killed as he joined Afghan fighters in a firefight against enemy forces near the eastern city of Khost.
It was the first reported death of a U.S. soldier by hostile fire and comes after the killing in November of a CIA agent by Taliban prisoners near Mazar-e Sharif and the deaths in December by friendly fire of three Army Green Beret soldiers outside Kandahar.
"The risk to our soldiers from ambush and booby traps is pretty significant now," one defense official said before the report of the soldier's death near Khost. "It's potentially more serious."
Hundreds of Marines in the south are being replaced by Army airborne troops, who will form a garrison force of greater duration, one complete with MPs to guard the growing number of prisoners and a "quick reaction" capability to mount helicopter-borne raids against enemy hideouts. Several hundred special operations soldiers also are working throughout the country.
Meanwhile, allied relationships are being tested. Anti-Taliban Afghan fighters are in some instances negotiating the surrender of their one-time foes, which Pentagon officials fear could lead to some of them slipping away.
"You have seen many people disappear where all these negotiations have gone on," said a Pentagon official. In addition, there were tribal groups around Tora Bora "selling passage to Pakistan" for al-Qaida fighters, officials said.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters last week that much remains to be done despite a new anti-Taliban government and the rout of al-Qaida.
"We've got a lot left to do in Afghanistan," said Rumsfeld, adding that U.S. military forces will remain there "as long as it takes to complete the mission." The first part of that updated mission is to make sure the Taliban "stays out of power," he said, the second is to track down the elusive Taliban and al-Qaida leadership.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, a conservative think tank, said the United States is finding itself in a "peculiar twilight" in Afghanistan, "somewhere between mopping up and nation building."
"We fought a limited war using proxies," he said. "We haven't lost, but we haven't won decisively." The top Taliban leadership, including supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, and terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden are still at large. The Afghan fighters are becoming less interested in pursuing those top leaders and their remaining supporters, Thompson noted. Increasingly, that job will have to be handled by U.S. troops, he said.
Thompson said the U.S. strategy of relying heavily on a proxy force might have outlived its usefulness. The Afghans have achieved their goal of a new, non-Taliban government and a collapsed al-Qaida, while some U.S. objectives have yet to be reached.
"We're now facing the problem you always have when you use proxies. Your strategy works only when your interests are closely aligned," he said. "When your interests diverge, the strategy unravels."
Rumsfeld was clearly frustrated last week in describing the Byzantine negotiation process going on between the various levels of anti-Taliban fighters and the entrenched Taliban forces. "I don't know, precisely, what's going on with respect to that," he told reporters.
Still, he said that the interim government of Hamid Karzai agrees that the top Taliban leadership and those in the al-Qaida network must face justice.
"We're not in the business of authorizing any kind of negotiation that would let people like that go," Rumsfeld said.
Copyright © 2002, The Baltimore Sun