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U.S. Continues Targeting Taliban Front Lines

Aired November 1, 2001 - 11:06   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.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: To the military front now; want to go over to the Pentagon quickly here and see what's happening there and what they are saying today. Here's Bob Franken there, watching that post again today.

Bob, good morning -- Kathleen Koch.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, good morning; it's actually Kathleen Koch.

HEMMER: I apologize.

KOCH: Well, I owe you one, I think I called you Miles in the last live spot, so now we're even.

HEMMER: We're even. Go ahead.

KOCH: Listen, there is a new intensity in the U.S. anti- terrorism efforts in Afghanistan. As that campaign enters its fourth week, some 70 U.S. strike aircraft hit the front lines now. That is the increasing target of the Taliban, where the Taliban is facing off in the northern section of Afghanistan against Northern Alliance opposition forces.

This is just the kind of support that the Northern Alliance forces had been hoping for, to give them the very needed leg-up in their efforts to open more supply lines and to claim some strategic cities in the north. Now what you're seeing is Pentagon video that was released yesterday, showing the targets that were hit by some 55 U.S. jets, half a dozen long-range bombers, the targets need Mazar-e Sharif and also the city of Kabul included a column of armored vehicles and an al Qaeda terrorist training camp.

The Taliban does claim that several innocent civilians were killed when U.S. bombs hit what they called a clinic -- a Red Cross resupply clinic in the city of Kandahar. However, the Pentagon is saying that that was what they considered a terrorist target; saying, quote: "We hit what we intended to hit."

As the airstrikes ratchet up in Afghanistan, the defense secretary himself fired off a couple of salvos in the battle for public opinion with an op-ed piece in the "Washington Post" today in which he said that the U.S. needed to react quickly and decisively in adapting to a new era of vulnerability. Rumsfeld writing, quote: "Rather than planning primarily for large, conventional wars and precisely defined theaters, we must plan for a world of new and different adversaries who will rely on surprise, deception, and asymmetric weapons." That, obviously a reference to the aircraft which were used in the September 11 attacks.

Now, soon to be deployed in that campaign in Afghanistan will be troops from the country of Turkey. They're going to be applying some -- deploying some 90 troops to northern Afghanistan to help train U.S. opposition forces there.

Also heading to the region will be new U.S. spy planes, a couple of them which are new in use, again. One being the Global Hawk, only put into action a couple of years ago; not greatly tested. An experimental -- sort of a spy drone. It sends back real-time pictures of what's on the ground, and operates at an altitude of 50,000 to 60,000 feet, putting it out of reach of anti-aircraft fire. It has a range of 1,200 nautical miles. It can swoop into areas and roam for up to 24 hours, isolating targets.

The second weapon that's heading that way is the JSTAR, an experimental plane that was rushed into service curing the 1991 Persian Gulf War. It's use, though, in this theater would be new. And it was designed primarily to track the movement of ground forces. And of course, Bill, taking out those Taliban ground forces does become, now, increasingly important as Taliban targets, infrastructure, and military hardware targets begin to dwindle.

Back to you, Bill.

HEMMER: Really interesting stuff, too. Kathleen thanks. And no offense against Bob, but you're a lot more pleasant to look at at 11:00 in the morning.

KOCH: I appreciate that, thank you.

HEMMER: Thank you Kathleen; Kathleen Koch at the Pentagon. Many thanks there.

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