Rumsfeld: two to three dozen military targets hit; More attacks under way

Monday, October 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said only military sites were targeted and at least two dozen were hit in the first U.S.-British counterblow to the terrorist attacks on America. The military launched a second wave Monday, a senior administration official said, with more Taliban military sites and weaponry being targeted.

``We have approved every single target _ and each one is a military target,'' the defense secretary said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``There were two or three dozen targets.''

Even as damage assessment from the first attacks went forward, a senior defense official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed a new wave of attacks was under way.

In the first round of strikes, British defense officials said 30 targets were hit, including three in the capital city of Kabul, in the first day of strikes Sunday.

Rumsfeld said the targets included terrorist training camps, military airfields, military aircraft, air defense radars and surface-to-air missile sites.

One military airport, he said, had both a civilian and military sections and only the military aircraft on one side of the field was targeted.

First reports of damage from the U.S. and British assaults indicated most targets appear to have been hit.

A senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the next wave of attacks would hit again at the Taliban's military airfields, tanks and fighters. The attack would use hunter-strike aircraft from naval ships in the region and fewer long-range bombers, the official said. Before Sunday's attacks, the Taliban was believed to have about 15 operating fighter-bombers of Soviet vintage, and several hundred tanks and armored vehicles.

Appearing earlier in television interviews, Rumsfeld denied Taliban claims that an aircraft had been shot down in Sunday's attacks.

``There was fire from the ground by various types of surface-to-air missiles,'' he said on CBS' ``The Early Show.'' But none of the U.S. or British planes was hit and all returned safely, he said.

The bombing attack was only one element of the U.S. and British campaign. It also includes humanitarian food drops.

Sunday's attack threw Tomahawk cruise missiles, 500-pound gravity bombs and computer-guided bombs at targets in at least three cities. The targets included early warning radars, surface-to-air missiles, airfields, aircraft, military command-and-control installations and terrorist camps.

Two C-17 cargo planes followed, dropping some 37,500 packets of food and medicine. The Bush administration hoped the supplies would soften the war's blow for hungry Afghans and those who had fled their homes in anticipation of fighting, as well as help convince them the strike was aimed at terrorists and not them.

Air Force EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft equipped for radio broadcasting flew over the area and broadcast the same message, officials said. Other undisclosed radio messages were directed at the Taliban.

The Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan said 20 civilians were killed in the strikes on the Kabul area. A check of four Kabul hospitals found no casualties. A Pentagon spokesman said it was too early to say if there were any.

Sources in Afghanistan said the strike began in the capital, Kabul, and that a loud explosion came from the area of an Osama bin Laden training camp about 12 miles south of Jalalabad. Taliban headquarters in Kandahar, that city's airport facilities, housing for followers of bin Laden and the home of a Taliban leader also were hit, Afghan sources said.

The strike was the first major military action to bolster the diplomatic, economic and financial anti-terrorism campaign started after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

``Our objective is to defeat those who use terrorism and those who house or support them,'' Rumsfeld said.

An initial goal of the strikes was to disable air defenses and to wipe out the military aircraft of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia, thus making conditions safer for further U.S. military and humanitarian action, he said.

Five U.S. airmen who flew missions Sunday said they faced some anti-aircraft fire from Taliban forces but didn't feel threatened.

``We face much more challenging sorties in our routine training,'' said a bombardier on a B-1B who identified himself as ``Vinny'' during a conference call with reporters. The call was arranged by Air Force officials on condition full not be used.

All aircraft returned safely from the mission, the Pentagon said. The bombing raids and humanitarian drops were planned to continue for several days, officials said.

The United States also will conduct operations inside Afghanistan that will not be seen publicly, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an apparent reference to the use of special operations ground forces.

``But visible or not ... all instruments of our national power, as well as those of our friends and allies around the world, are being brought to bear'' against terrorism, Myers said.

Fifteen land-based bombers _ including B-2 Stealth bombers flying from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. _ and 25 other strike aircraft flying from U.S. aircraft carriers began the attack at 12:30 p.m. EDT _ after darkness fell in Afghanistan, Myers said.

A senior defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said later that Navy F/A-18 and F-14 fighters flew missions off two U.S. carriers _ the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Enterprise _ in the Arabian Sea. Support planes included Navy EA-6B electronic warfare aircraft and E2-C Hawkeye early warning radar planes as well as American and British tankers that refueled the bombers on their long-range strikes.

Myers said U.S. aircraft included Air Force B-1 Lancers, B-2s and B-52 long-range bombers as well as carrier-based strike aircraft. The B-2s flew from Whiteman, but after dropping their satellite-guided bombs continued on to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

The B-52s dropped at least dozens of 500-pound gravity bombs on al-Qaida terrorist training camps in eastern Afghanistan, one official said.

Also participating in the initial attacks were American and British ships and submarines that launched a total of 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles from positions in the Arabian Sea, officials said.

The U.S. ships were the guided missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea, whose homeport is Mayport, Fla., and three destroyers, the USS O'Brien based in Yokosuka, Japan, the USS McFaul based in Norfolk, Va., and the USS John Paul Jones based in San Diego.