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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

U.S. CENTCOM Holds Press Conference

Aired December 5, 2001 - 11:14   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: We're going to a live press conference at Fort McDill to find out more about those American soldiers who were killed today.

MJR. BRAD LOWELL: It was in support of the forces on the ground there who were supporting the opposition forces there north of Kandahar.

QUESTION: Was that a predetermined strike area, or had the ground forces asked for...

LOWELL: Yes, I don't have specifics on whether someone on the ground called that fire in. or if it was a predetermined target.

QUESTION: Major, do you know if they dropped a guided munition, or was it a free-falling drop?

LOWELL: The munition involved in this incident is a JDAM, or a joint direct attack munition. A GBU-31 was attached to a 2000-pound bomb, and we believe there's only one bomb involved in this incident.

QUESTION: Can you describe the extent -- I mean, for people that don't remember Vietnam and people don't know what -- how lethal these things can be, how big they are. Can you kind of describe what a 2000-pound bomb from B-52 will do?

LOWELL: Yes, I don't have specifics on what the actual. I have a FAQ sheet I can provide you that talks about its effectiveness, but I don't really have information on its impact area, things of that nature.

QUESTION: But it's big, right?

LOWELL: Well, I can say a 2000-pound bomb is big and can do some damage.

QUESTION: Can you relate how something like this could happen in an area like that, when the troops so close together, and how a bomb so far away can do this damage?

LOWELL: Well, clearly, through the targeting-selection process, there's really two main efforts that take place. Clearly you want to identify that that target is a military target, and then you want to minimize collateral damage as best as possible, and it is an unfortunate circumstance during the operation, and unfortunately, it did happen.

QUESTION: Is this a case where the bomb missed its mark and went haywire, or was just aimed incorrectly. Is that what happened?

LOWELL: I don't have specifics on that. You know, it is being looked into and it is under investigation. I don't have specifics on whether it is on the ground or, you know, an actual error in the munition itself.

QUESTION: Can we ask you the two men killed, and the 20 that were injured, were they deployed from here or were they based from here, can you tell us that?

LOWELL: I don't have specifics on unit, again, until notification is made to family members. Again, I can tell you this, they were U.S. special forces, and again, they were supporting those opposition forces.

Some further information, they were removed from the site by U.S. helicopters. They were taken to a forward-operating base called Rhino. That is where the Marines are presently located south of Kandahar. And an assessment will be made at that point if further medical attention is needed for those individuals. They will be moved to other facilities.

QUESTION: The others injured, how serious injuries?

LOWELL: I don't have an update on those 20. We know that there was 20 injured in the incident. I don't have a breakdown of those 20.

QUESTION: You said you're aware that there would be bombing in the vicinity?

LOWELL: I can say this, if you're forward deployed, you know, there's that opportunity. Whether they knew the round was incoming or not, I don't have that information.

QUESTION: You don't know if they called for it either.

LOWELL: Again, I don't know if it was called for fire on the ground by the special-op. That is one thing the force can do on the ground. But whether that is the case in this incident, I don't know.

QUESTION: Do you know what the special forces, Marines or Army?

LOWELL: Again, all I can tell you at this point is that there were two killed and 20 injured.

QUESTION: Is this the kind of thing that soldiers are trained to expect in a time of war?

LOWELL: Well, clearly at any level, you want to avoid the circumstances. These are highly-trained individuals on the ground. U.S. special forces are some of the most highly-trained forces that we have. Clearly, when you go in harm's way, you know the possibilities that confront you. So clearly, these troops were prepared. They're highly trained, and again, it's unfortunate circumstance, but commanders are prepared for that.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We've been listening to Major Brad Lowell, there give us an update there, from Fort McDill in Florida about the word that we got this morning about U.S. special forces suffering loss of two troops who were killed when a JDAM bomb, one of thee single 2,000-pound bombs went astray, either went astray or was instructed by bad coordinates, and actually hit a site that was very close to the troops and actually killed these two and injured 20 others. The others who were injured have been sent to the Rhino operation base, and we'll try to get an update on their condition when we can later on.

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