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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: Many Wonder How, When U.S. Ground Troops May Enter Afghanistan

Aired October 10, 2001 - 05:50   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: Let's check in with Brian Cabell, who is live at the Pentagon this morning, to talk more about what is next.

Brian, we keep hearing that these air strikes need to be quick -- need to end quickly so that the next phase can move on. So how much longer is this air campaign going to go on?

BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know precisely how long, Carol, but clearly they are running out of fixed targets. Perhaps a few more days of continuous bombing, but then these fixed targets will simply be wiped out. No more airfields to wipe out, no more air defense sites. So what will happen next will be the emerging targets, the troop movements, the convoy movements. Surveillance will spot them, and then presumably the planes would swoop in and attack them.

But right now, a couple more days perhaps of continuous bombing, and then they will look for these so-called emerging targets.

LIN: Has there been any confirmation, discussion, about having ground troops inside of Afghanistan?

CABELL: For the last few days here at the Pentagon, there has been talk about that and no official word. We do know, of course, that special forces have been in and around Afghanistan for the last week or so. We know also, as Jamie McIntyre noted, that there are about a thousand troops in Uzbekistan, about a hundred miles north of the border. Those troops may be called into action in the next weeks or so, but again, no official word. They could take part in commando raids, conceivably, reconnaissance missions. They could coordinate with Northern Alliance forces. But again, no official word on precisely what their duties will be, but there are continuing hints that they will be activated in some very real way in the next few weeks.

LIN: Might that depend on how much success the Northern Alliance has in advancing towards the capital city of Kabul and other locations?

CABELL: Yes, and the Northern Alliance wants to get more cover from bombers overhead. They would like to have some help. So again, it's a matter of coordination. So far, we haven't heard that they're closely coordinated. The Northern Alliance would like to have more help from the American planes, and the Americans are playing it rather coyly at this point.

LIN: All right, thank you very much. Brian Cabell live this morning at the Pentagon -- Leon.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We know that the Northern Alliance is trying to work its way north toward Uzbekistan, and our Alessio Vinci is there. He's actually in Karshi, Uzbekistan, a region where some U.S. troops have actually been on the ground, even though there had been some reports from there that they were there, and then there were reports that they weren't there. We understand they are there on the ground.

Let's go now and check in with Alessio, and get the latest.

Alessio, good morning.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Leon.

Yes, the U.S. troops are here. We have received the confirmation from the Pentagon. Also, we have seen several planes taking off and landing here -- or actually we heard them taking off and landing at a nearby military base here.

Unfortunately, we are not able to go anywhere near that base. The entire perimeter around that military base is completely sealed off, and the only thing we can do here is just to sit about five miles away and watch the sky and see what happens.

And occasionally, we see military planes flying. Earlier today, we saw a C-17 transport plane flying low, presumably landing at that military base. We don't know if inside that plane there were any U.S. troops or whether they were just transporting any kind of equipment. We know that that is a former Soviet military base, and therefore the U.S. military had to upgrade that base in order to fly in and out its planes. So it is conceivable that perhaps some equipment as well as troops are being taken to that base.

Now we know that President Karimov -- President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov -- has agreed to allow the United States to use that military base, but only for humanitarian missions, such a search and rescue operation or food drops into Afghanistan. We heard, in several reports from the Pentagon and from Jamie McIntyre, that the United States may be considering sending some ground troops, but it is at this point unclear whether those troops will be coming from here and what those troops will be doing inside Afghanistan.

We also know that President Karimov has expressed publicly that he is not very much interested in finding out exactly what kind of troops are stationed here, therefore perhaps leaving open the possibility that some of those ground troops, if indeed they were to be going in from here, going into Afghanistan, they will be coming from the base here -- Leon.

HARRIS: That is an issue that the politicians may have to haggle and work out.

Alessio Vinci reporting live this morning from Karshi, Uzbekistan, thank you very much.

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