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America's New War: Pentagon Preparing for War

Aired September 20, 2001 - 06:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's check in now with our Bob Franken who's standing by at the Pentagon.

Bob, good morning, this is...

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

HARRIS: Yes, I'm sure you saw that interview just a moment ago and that's the kind of thing that President Bush is trying to address and trying to make people feel that whatever happens, whatever they're going through up there is going to be worth it in the end.

What's going on there at the Pentagon?

FRANKEN: Well, you know, Leon, that is the motivation of course. The United States is, of course, quite angry. There is a lot of talk about war and the people here who are the ones who are the experts are now starting to make their moves and the latest move is the deployment of aircraft. The first wave that are going out are the planes that will supplement those that are flying in the Iraq the forbidden area zones there. F-15Es, their strike planes, strike jets, they're heading to the region right now. F-16s also going there. You can see that these are the planes that would be used to enforce that no-fly zone in Iraq.

But what that is going to do, it's going to free up other planes. You see the F-15s and the F-16s taking off, flying as they do over the desert areas in Iraq. That's going to mean there are more planes for that and that allows for the others to be used in the military action, whatever it is that's being planned. And that's just the first wave of planes. There's going to be just a whole group of others that are going to be leaving in the next several days as they head for the region.

You can see that the F-15Es and the F-16s, B-52 Bombers with their capability to file cruise -- fire cruise missiles and the AWACS planes -- those are the ones that sit up there and really do surveillance over a particular area in their high tech way. There's also going to be what they call a bridge of refueling aircraft so that the planes can get over very easily, an airborne bridge, and of course, the surveillance aircraft, and they're all heading toward the region. They're going to be at a variety of places, the Eagle Garcia.

There's a "Washington Post" report, as a matter of fact, that some would be stationed in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which are two central Asia former Republics of the Soviet Union near Afghanistan, but the foreign ministers of both of those countries deny that they're going to be used.

But the fact of the matter is is that the ship armada that had gone out earlier and is going out earlier is now supplemented by the air armada, and the ship armada, of course, includes the Theodore Roosevelt. It left from Norfolk yesterday with its support group of 13 other ships. It is a massive operation. It was scheduled to go at that time. That is not remarkable that it did leave, but it is not being -- it is not replacing another group. The Enterprise was supposed to be heading back. It is now stationed, we're told, in the Arabian Sea.

There is still another, the Vinson, in the Persian Gulf. This will be the third one. We're told it's heading then to the Mediterranean and points unknown with 25,000 troops in its entire patela (ph). Lots and lots of planes, special forces units, marines, all capable of operating just about any kind of mission.

There's a lot of talk, of course, about some sort of commando operation supplemented by this massive air power but all of this is still in development. At the same time that the Pentagon planners talk a lot about how they're not going to give away operational details, they make sure that this kind of thing is known because, of course, it applies pressure on the governments that might be wavering. Leon.

HARRIS: That is a lot to keep track of, and thank you for doing it for us this morning. Bob Franken at the Pentagon.

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