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America's New War: Kitty Hawk to be Used as Launching Platform

Aired October 2, 2001 - 06:33   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Along with the additional callup in the military.

CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre has more on the latest deployments in this U.S. buildup.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The USS Kitty Hawk pulled out of Yokosuka, Japan, Monday without a single plane on its deck. That's not unusual. The combat planes usually join the carrier at sea. But not this time.

Pentagon sources say U.S. military planners want to use the Kitty Hawk's deck as 4.5 acres of sovereign U.S. territory from which commandos in Special Operations helicopters could be launched into Afghanistan.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), FMR. SUPREME NATO COMMANDER: We would be able to base troops and aircraft, helicopters and so forth, on this. It'd give us an alternative to having to ask a government like Pakistan to use their terrain.

MCINTYRE: The U.S. has employed the strategy before, in 1994, when hundreds of U.S. Army troops and their helicopters were staged aboard the carrier "Eisenhower" in preparation for the invasion of Haiti. That operation was led by Hugh Shelton, who has just ended his term as Joint Chiefs chairman and won't be around for the war on terrorism.

GEN. HUGH SHELTON (RET.), FORMER CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: Mr. Secretary, on this day as I leave office, I'm proud to report that America's military is ready.

MCINTYRE: Shelton's legacy includes his influence on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, whose review of military force and Pentagon strategy did not produce the radical change some expected. The report, rewritten after the September 11 attacks, called for a restored emphasis on defending the United States and new capabilities to defeat adversaries who will rely on, quote, "asymmetric warfare."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWSREEL ANNOUNCER: America prepares to face attack on its cities and industrial centers under a combined civilian defense program. Any community is vulnerable to possible bombing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: In the 1950s, the U.S. had 2,500 airplanes committed to homeland defense. But after the cold war, the mission was no longer a priority.

MAJ. GEN. DONALD SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: We put it in our cheapest force, the Air National Guard, our cheapest airplane, the F-16. We went from 20 alert sites to 14 alert sites to seven at the time this took place. We had a thin veneer of air sovereignty.

MCINTYRE (on camera): But more fighters on alert to shoot down civilian planes is not the answer the Pentagon is looking for. Counterterrorism in the United States remains primarily a law enforcement function with the military in support.

But one old idea is getting new consideration, setting up a command for the defense of America with a four-star general in charge.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The USS Kitty Hawk is the fourth aircraft carrier called to duty in the war on terrorism.

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