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KWAME HOLMAN: Fresh from visits to Russia and several of Afghanistan’s neighbors, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pronounced his efforts there a success. He then expanded on his recent statement that the anti-Taliban military campaign will be over in months.
DONALD RUMSFELD: It is clearly an estimate. I did not suggest one, two, or three months; I said months rather than years. That means it could be as long as 23. I’ve got a full range, from one or two to 23. And I thought to myself when I was asked that question, I spontaneously responded to the best of my ability and said, “Hmm, I’ll bet you it’s months, not years.” Could I be wrong? I suppose. Do I think I am? No.
KWAME HOLMAN: Beyond the military campaign, Rumsfeld said it indeed will take years to root out terrorism around the world. On the battlefront, the U.S. concluded a full month of bombardments, using B-52’s to hit suspected large concentrations of Taliban troops. In addition, officials confirmed the U.S. now is using a lethal bomb known as a daisy cutter. General Peter Pace is vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
GEN. PETER PACE, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff: They are 15,000-pound bombs that literally are fit on a pallet on a C-130. They’re pushed out the back of the C-130 and float down by parachute. They have a probe that sticks out so when the probe hits the ground, they explode about three feet above the ground, and as you would expect, they make a heck of a bang when they go off, and the intent is to kill people.
KWAME HOLMAN: Regarding the ground war, Rumsfeld would not confirm reports the Northern Alliance is moving on the Taliban-held city of Mazar-e-Sharif. He said all the anti-Taliban forces will face degrees of success.
DONALD RUMSFELD: It’s going to vary from place to place in the country. It is not going to be a steady march forward across the front. It is going to be probes and pushes and successes and steps back. That is the nature of it, and I think we just have to face that fact.
KWAME HOLMAN: For weeks, Washington has provided the outnumbered Northern Alliance with weapons, ammunition, and the expertise of Special Forces troops. The Pentagon says it has doubled the number of elite American soldiers in Afghanistan in the several days, and more are on the way.
DONALD RUMSFELD: It is helpful to the United States to have Special Forces involved on the ground to assist with communications, liaison, resupply, humanitarian activities, as well as targeting, and that is their goal and their purpose, and they’re doing it well. So as soon as the others can get in, the better from our standpoint. With respect to the air campaign, there’s no question but that the better targeting information we have, the better the effect is on the ground.
KWAME HOLMAN: Rumsfeld confirmed that over the weekend, U.S. forces extracted the anti-Taliban leader, Hamid Karzai, from Taliban-held territory. And he repeated his confidence in Pakistan’s stewardship of its nuclear stockpile.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Countries that have nuclear weapons spend a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of effort getting them. And they tend to have over a period of time a very healthy respect for the lethal power of those weapons. They tend to be quite sensitive to the safety of those weapons. And there is not a doubt in my mind but that the president of Pakistan and his senior officials have exactly that respect for the power of those weapons.
KWAME HOLMAN: The secretary said the U.S. hopes to resume military ties with Pakistan which Washington cut back a decade ago in response to Islamabad’s growing nuclear program. Meanwhile, in Germany, the chancellor announced plans to deploy as many as 4,000 soldiers into the Afghan campaign, but did not say when or where.