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America Strikes Back: Interview With David Grange

Aired October 9, 2001 - 16:06   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.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Judy, good afternoon. The Pentagon, we heard from this afternoon, says U.S. forces damaged or destroyed about 85 percent of their initial targets throughout Afghanistan. Though Taliban forces continue to respond with anti-aircraft fire, General Richard Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, says that U.S. forces essentially have controlled skies over Afghanistan now.

The Pentagon says it cannot confirm whether U.S.-led attacks were responsible for the death of four employees of a U.N.-funded mine- clearing operation near Kabul. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan is calling the deaths of those workers a "hard blow," in his words. They are the first confirmed civilian deaths since the U.S. began its strike back in Afghanistan.

In Florida today, more employees of a publishing firm are being tested for anthrax, while federal officials try to determine if two known cases of exposure to anthrax might be linked to terrorists. Investigators are taking a closer look at forensic evidence gathered since the September 11th terrorist attacks, especially items traced to the suspected hijackers.

Now back to Washington and Judy there?

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Joie. And for the very latest on the military action in Afghanistan, we did get that briefing a little while ago from the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and the head of the Joint Chiefs. But for the perspective from Pakistan, let's go to our CNN's Christiane Amanpour. She is reporting from Islamabad.

Christiane, it's what, 1:00 in the morning there?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is, and it's about 20 to 12:00 in Afghanistan, where we have heard reports from all sorts of reporters who are based there, most notably the Al-Jazeera correspondents, who have shown us live pictures a few hours ago, when the third wave -- nighttime wave of airstrikes started around the Kabul area.

We also, from our sources, know that it was under way around Kandahar and in Herrat, and in other locations. You heard that the Pentagon said that they believe they now have control of the skies, that they have destroyed any possibility of the minimal number of aircraft that the Taliban may have had from ever working again -- that they believed that they have destroyed, to all intents and purposes, the air defense systems that might pose a threat.

The British officials, and actually some American officials on the ships, the carriers in the Gulf region, are saying that some aircraft are returning with their bombs unexploded, undropped. Live ammunition returning, because of a lack of targets. So that is what the Pentagon is saying, and we, as I say, have heard of a lot of antiaircraft fire being fired up from our sources inside Afghanistan.

Here, people in Pakistan watching very, very closely. And clearly, the fallout, as we've seen over the last couple of days on the streets, in particularly, localized areas, notably near the border with Pakistan, with Afghanistan, where there is a large population whose ethnicity is similar to those of the Taliban and the majority there in Afghanistan, and who support and sympathize.

So they came out for a second day, but it was smaller than it was yesterday. And the minister on interior responsible for internal security has basically said that they believe that they have the situation under control, that they have deployed more police, that in a last resort, they would deploy the army.

We know that the police are also under orders to fire. They are told to fire in self-defense only, and in fact, five protesters have been killed in gunfire, at least confirmed dead from the security sources here.

Now, we want to show you also a different side from the radicalism and the extremists who have taken to the streets. In Islamabad tonight, there was a concert that was put on by the members of Pakistan's youth entertainment and theatrical groups. There were singers, there were dancers. They gave a rendition of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance."

And many of the performers and organizers said, look, we want to show you another side that is not getting much attention, and we believe that we are the majority here in Pakistan. The progressives, the moderates, the people who stand against terrorism and who stand with the international coalition -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Christiane, two quick questions. One is, now that the Pentagon is saying they have air superiority, and at the same time we're hearing there are fewer targets, what is it that's expected they're going to go after, if there are indeed so few targets to go after?

And second, General President Musharraf saying he hopes it will -- was told it would be over in just a matter of a few days, but we just heard President Bush saying he didn't know who would have told President Musharraf that.

AMANPOUR: Well, all we can tell you about that is what the president here said in a press conference yesterday. But he did say that he couldn't define what "soon" meant. He just hoped that it would be something that would be not massively lengthy, and I believe he was referring specifically to the airstrikes. And, as you heard from the Pentagon, that that is a component of a prolonged campaign. But certainly we've heard that one of the objectives, after destroying aircraft and air defense systems, is also to disrupt the Taliban forces, to have them on the run, to disrupt their infrastructure, and to try to shift the balance of power. So that is what we've been told. It's hard to tell exactly what the proceeds will be, in terms of this air campaign.

But also, we're hearing from other people and other sources, the British, that maybe this phase might be over in a few days. So to be honest, some conflicting information coming out from various different sources.

WOODRUFF: All right. Christiane Amanpour, helping us sort it all out. Thanks, Christiane. She's in Islamabad, as we say, where it's about 20 minutes -- almost 20 minutes after 1:00 in the morning.

Our coverage continues in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says U.S.-led forces can now operate around the clock in Afghanistan. Because, he says, the air defenses of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network have been considerably damaged. In fact, he's saying the U.S. has air superiority.

Our military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre, more now on the Pentagon's assessment of the battle so far.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: The Pentagon says the U.S. military is moving into around the clock operations, now that the air defenses in Afghanistan have been all but neutralized. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld saying today that all but one airport had been taken out of commission, and that the United States is now moving toward a restrikes and emerging targets, or targets of opportunity, as they continue operations both day and night.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Richard Myers, outlined some of the damage from the previous strikes. While he said the U.S. smart bombs were not perfect, he said they were doing a good job, and gave Pentagon reporters an overview of some of the damage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. RICHARD MYERS, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The first one is a terrorist training camp in southeast Afghanistan near Kandahar. As can you tell from the first photo, it's fairly empty, but it is part of Al Qaeda's infrastructure. Here you see the camp pre-strike. And now, here is the post-strike photo.

We also have a SAM site near the Kandahar airfield. The following photo shows you the SAM destroyed.

And finally, here is an airfield that at Shindand, Afghanistan, in western Afghanistan. And you see here the results of the strike. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: Now, a couple of things that you might have not noticed from those photographs. One is that there were a couple of places on there where U.S. smart bombs missed their targets. Also, there were plenty of other places, particularly in the air strip and the surface-to-air missile strike site that could be hit again. There were other targets available.

Now, asked today if the United States was running out of targets, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld quipped that, "No, the United States wasn't running out of targets, Afghanistan was." But privately, Pentagon officials say there are still a lot of things that could be attacked over the coming days, but there is no hurry. And they steer us away from the idea that the campaign is winding down. They say it's simply moving into another phase.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

WOODRUFF: If that's a military assessment of what has happened up until now, our question is: what's next? And for more on that, let's go down to Atlanta again and my colleague, Joie -- Joie.

CHEN: Judy, thanks. And as you noted, the president earlier repeating what we also heard from the Pentagon, that there was going to be no statement about any future plans for U.S. ground troops. But you have to wonder, and there have already been quite a number of questions about what would be next -- about the possibility of the use of ground forces.

Joining us from Chicago this hour, CNN military analyst, retired Army General David Grange. General, thanks for being with us. You certainly have heard some of the questions that have been raised. If there has already been a softening up in an air campaign, is it time to start asking those questions about the possibility of ground forces?

RET. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, U.S. ARMY: Well, the possibility is there. We're going to have to do some type of ground operations that may not be from the international coalition, but the coalition in support of Northern Alliance or other parties.

Now, when you look at some of the destruction that has taken place, for interest, terrorist camps -- yes, the camps are destroyed. Buildings, other training facilities that were not destroyed in the first attacks, will probably be destroyed in the next attacks.

But where is the terrorist casualty? What happened to the people, the terrorists, that lived in those areas, trained in those areas? They probably abandoned those before the attacks. So there are still some targets out there, and that ties to what the president says, that this is a sustained campaign.

WOODRUFF: A sustained campaign not over yet, but we have to talk about that possibility. If there is an introduction of ground forces, you have to consider that Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan -- all the countries surrounding Afghanistan, with the exception of Uzbekistan, which still seems a little bit fuzzy on what its limit is going to be, but I suppose we can talk about that at some other point -- all have said, no, the United States does not have permission to launch any sort of ground force operation from any of these side countries. Uzbekistan seems to be an emphasis on humanitarian relief, but nothing else.

I wonder, if that's the case, what option is there to bring ground forces in Afghanistan? This is a landlocked country.

GRANGE: Well, if you're talking about ground forces, other than support, the Northern Alliance. In other words, coalition of forces coming in to do raids, attacks, seize facilities, air strips. The coalition does not need an adjacent country to launch. The capability is there for long-range action from different locations. The means is available.

It's just a matter of making sure you have current intelligence to do an accurate assessment for a ground attack. There will not be an attack conducted against a vague target. Everybody has learned that in the past. That's not the way the coalition, I don't believe, will do business.

So it does not need an adjacent country. Is that advantageous? Of course it is. Uzbekistan would be perfect for that, but right now, the humanitarian assistance and probably search and rescue capabilities will be launched out of that country. We're appreciative of that, I'm sure.

And that's not a slight mission. That's a very important mission in this campaign. Combat is just one small aspect of this total effort, of diplomacy, of economic support to the people of Afghanistan, and the fragile alliance of adjacent countries that we have to consider, as we conduct these operations.

CHEN: General Grange, thanks very much for being with us this hour. General Grange is one of CNN's military analysts, and we appreciate your insight on all of this.

GRANGE: Thank you.

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