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America Strikes Back: Pentagon Releases Video of Bombing Runs

Aired October 12, 2001 - 06:08   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: From Pakistan we move into Afghanistan's capital city this morning. It is calm after a storm of U.S. bombardment. Government opposition forces say Taliban troop positions near Kabul and also around Jalalabad were hit. Night scope pictures show explosions from U.S. airstrikes near Kabul. And these images also show artillery fire between Taliban forces and the opposing Northern Alliance.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says part of this phase in the attack includes dropping "bunker busting" bombs on buried targets. The raids are designed to destroy Taliban stockpiles of ammunition and explosives.

So let's check in with Bob Franken, he is live at the Pentagon this morning, on the military strategy and whether it, in fact, is entering a new phase. Bob?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's hard to tell if there is a new phase, or if it's just going to be a continuum. Of course, we've been reporting now for quite some time that a new phase will be the introduction of ground forces. We passed that over a lot. The bunker busters, by the way, are part of a strategy to now go after people as opposed to equipment. That is to say, troops, Taliban leaders, Al Qaeda leaders, that type of thing.

Not only to try and neutralize them by taking them out, to use the vernacular, but also to demoralize them. That is a stated strategy here. And of course, we've been told by Pentagon officials that they've been about 85 percent successful. But evidence in the form of pictures or videotape has been really been hard to come by. Been quite stingy with what they release.

In fact, they have now released this first video -- you can see it here -- of a bombing run that was made on a SAM missile site. You can see it was quite spectacular. You can see the explosions, and then you can also see some of the missiles actually twirling around. Now what that was, was a SAM missile site. There had been one day of bombing runs on Monday.

They had taken out the headquarters building -- had not taken out the missile sites, but as you can see after the second day, the missile sites were destroyed. And you can, again, see the video that accomplished that according to the Pentagon. It was from a gun camera, the type of thing we saw huge amounts of during the Gulf War, but as I said, we're seeing very little.

As for the missile sites, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld had said that U.S. planes could really fly pretty much where they wanted in the skies over Afghanistan, but now he was backing off that a little bit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have to acknowledge the reality that there is still an air defense threat to the United States. There are a lot of Stingers and a lot of man-portable surface-air-missiles. There are still some SAMs and surface-to-air missiles of greater capability, and there are, as you have seen, a great deal of AAA.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: Now, AAA, of course, means anti-aircraft artillery. They are going to have to be careful, according to the defense secretary, particularly if, as expected, they move to a new phase -- U.S. forces move to a new phase, which would involve also helicopters perhaps dropping ground combat troops into certain areas -- Carol.

LIN: Bob, do you know what the latest status is of U.S. troops now basing inside of Pakistan?

FRANKEN: Well, the Pakistani government admits that there are U.S. forces in the area. Their use is not very well defined. The official statement is they'll be used for humanitarian purposes and perhaps search and rescue. But defense officials say repeatedly here, the ones who aren't identified by name, that it would not be unusual if, in fact, their responsibilities were extended to include some combat missions.

Of course, Pakistan is not the only staging area. There's Uzbekistan and, of course, there's the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier without many planes on it, which is expected to be used also as a staging area -- in effect a floating base -- Carol.

LIN: Has the Kitty Hawk arrived yet in the immediate region?

FRANKEN: Well, it's hard to know -- arrived exactly where. Of course, it's going to be floating and it's certainly in the general area of the Arabian Sea -- certainly in a position where it wouldn't take much time to put troops on it and use them in actual combat circumstances.

LIN: Yes. All right. Thank you very much -- Bob Franken, live from the Pentagon.

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