U.S. in ‘First Stages’ of Attack
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld would not discuss details of the attack, but said the military was targeting more than Osama bin Laden — the prime suspect in last month’s attacks on New York and Washington — and his al-Qaida network.
“This is not about a single individual, it’s about a terrorist network” and many terrorist networks across the globe, Rumsfeld said.
One goal of the attacks, according to Rumsfeld, was to render ineffective Afghanistan’s air defenses and to wipe out the military aircraft of the country’s Taliban rulers, whom the U.S. has accused of shielding bin Laden.
Rumsfeld said it was too early to judge whether the attacks were successful, but added the U.S. effort would be “continuous” and “broadly-based”.
“In this battle against terrorism, there is not silver bullet,” he said, “there is no single thing that will make this threat disappear.”
Gen. Richard Meyers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said 15 bombers and 25 strike aircraft, both land- and sea-based, launched 50 cruise missiles at targets inside Afghanistan.
Meyers said the attacks included B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers as well as ships and submarines in the region.
Rumsfeld said defense officials “have no information” that any U.S. planes were shot down during the strikes.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is already responding to the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said. Allied forces have already begun air-dropping humanitarian supplies and planned to drop 37,500 rations in this first sweep.
The refugee situation in Afghanistan has garnered international attention in the past month, with United Nations officials saying the country faces a crisis of “stunning proportions.”