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Retaliation: A conventional ship's unconventional role

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The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk left Japan on Monday for southwest Asia for use as a floating ocean base in the U.S. campaign against terrorism. Pentagon sources say most of the Kitty Hawk's strike aircraft are staying behind, allowing the carrier to accommodate special operations helicopters and troops if needed.

In Washington, meanwhile, the U.S. armed forces have a new top officer: Air Force Gen. Richard Myers took over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Monday. "I know our men and women are in good hands with you at the helm," Gen. Hugh Shelton, the outgoing Joint Chiefs chairman, told Myers in a farewell ceremony.


A U.S. official said the Kitty Hawk could serve as a "lily pad" in the Indian Ocean. The Navy did something similar in 1994, when it used carriers as troop ships and floating helicopter launch pads when it U.S. troops moved into Haiti. "It gives us four and a half acres of sovereign U.S. territory to use as we like," the official said. (Full story)

The armed services thanked Shelton on Monday for his four-year tour as the nation's highest-ranking military officer, just hours after Myers took his oath of service. Shelton, nominated by President Bill Clinton in October 1997 to serve as the nation's 14th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ended his term at midnight, clearing the way for Myers, an Air Force general, to step in -- at perhaps one of the most challenging hours in U.S. military history. (Full story)

President Bush plans to name a retired Army general to a new administration post to fight terrorism, senior government officials confirmed Sunday. Bush could announce his selection of retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing for the position of deputy national security adviser as early as this week, officials told CNN. (Full story)

Iran "will take action" against American warplanes that regularly violate its airspace in the event of a U.S. strike on neighboring Afghanistan, the country's defense minister said Monday. Rear Adm. Ali Shamkhani also told reporters that Iran has been supporting Afghanistan's opposition Northern Alliance. (Full story)

The editor of an Arabic newspaper told CNN on Monday that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban "are panicking now" with U.S. attacks possible. "They can see a huge superpower, aircraft carriers, a massive military mobilization, so they are panicking," Abdel Barin Atwan said. (Full story)


  •  Summary

  •  Update

  •  Key questions

  •  Who's who

  •  Impact

What form will the retaliation take? Click here for more.

Will the resources in place to deal with the humanitarian crisis of the Afghan refugees be enough? Click here for more

What countries have joined the U.S. anti-terror coalition? Click here for more

How will retaliation affect Americans at home and abroad? Click here for more

Will NATO play a role? Click here for more

Will this crisis lead to a new role in U.S.-Russia relations? Click here for more


George W. Bush: U.S. president

Osama bin Laden: A wealthy Saudi expatriate living in Afghanistan who U.S. authorities cite as one of the primary suspects in masterminding the attacks. Click here for more.

Colin Powell: U.S. secretary of state. A former Army general, Powell also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Click here for more. Click here for more.

Condoleezza Rice: U.S. national security adviser. Click here for more.

Gen. Richard B. Myers: chairman-designate of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Click here for more.

Saudi exile Osama bin Laden is considered a prime suspect in the September 11 attacks.  

Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. secretary of defense. Click here for more.

George Tenet: CIA director. Click here for more.

Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden: Director of the U.S. National Security Agency, responsible for gathering intelligence on terrorist cells.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf: The military ruler of Pakistan. Click here for more.

Mullah Mohammed Omar: The Muslim cleric who leads Afghanistan's ruling Taliban. Taliban officials say they have played host to bin Laden but do not allow him to engage in terrorist activities. Click here for more.

Northern Alliance: A group of former mujahedeen fighters, mainly from minority ethnic groups, that oppose the Taliban. The group controls about five percent of northern Afghanistan.


The attacks on the nation's landmarks of power and security signal the start of a protracted battle on terrorism that could permanently alter core U.S. military and diplomatic strategies.


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