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MORNINGS WITH PAULA ZAHN

With War Looking More Like a Success, There Are Still Some Critics

Aired November 20, 2001 - 09:32   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Running the war against terrorism, the Pentagon's latest tactic, using broadcasts and leaflets in Afghanistan to advertise the $25 million reward for bin Laden.

With the war looking more like success, there are still some critics. For example, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been accused of micromanaging the war. Yesterday, "The Washington Post" cited and unidentified four-star general saying "The execution of the war was 'military amateur hour,' the general said. The worst thing is the lack of trust at the senior leadership level."

Joining us now is CNN military analyst General David Grange, who is in Chicago. Good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

GEN. DAVID GRANGE, (RET.) CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Thank you.

ZAHN: I can't hear you. I need to find out from my panel in the control room whether they can hear him.

Can you say hello again, general?

GRANGE: Hello.

ZAHN: OK, now I can not only see you, I can hear you. Much better picture. Thank you.

Were you able to hear what I said, a little bit of criticism from the "Washington Post" basically accusing a four-star general, an unidentified one, I might add, accusing him of micromanaging the war effort. What do you think of the criticism?

GRANGE: Well, i don't know if the general said that or not, and I don't think it is being micromanaged. There is a lot of perception out there because of the type of war that's going on. First of all, it's not just take the hill and destroy everything on top of it. It's a war where you have a lot of different types of forces intermingled around many of these objectives, and decisions to strike sometimes take a while, which is something if you are fighting on the ground you don't want it happen. You want things to happen very rapidly, and you want the commanders on the scene to make decisions.

I have a feeling that is delegated down to the lowest level. It's just that it's so many different complex issues in the area, that for a decision to be made to strike a target probably takes a little bit of time. So you know, I don't really think it's really the case of micromanagement.

ZAHN: So essentially, and I know you can't vouch for whether this four-star general said this or not, but according to "The Washington Post," he said "The execution of the war was 'military amateur hour.' The worst thing is the lack of trust at the senior leadership level."

Is there any evidence that you have seen to suggest what this four-star general said?

GRANGE: No, but let me add a few other points here that I think need to no into the equation. First of all, nowadays, with the way information throws in the media cycle, things happen very quickly. Everything is flattened out. People get information very quickly, and that includes the lowest level fighters up to the leaders of the government executing a war. Now what happens is people that have information so quickly, they'll make decisions at a higher level than normally they would, or they ask questions at a higher level where normally they wouldn't have that information to ask a question. So you have this kind of information frenzy going on, which makes it look like from the questioning, there's a lot of micromanagement, but I don't think that truly is the case.

Second point is that you have all these different actors on this battlefield -- civilians, Northern Alliance, Pashtun tribal leaders are now fighting with the Anti-Taliban against the Taliban they used to work for, wearing the same kinds of uniforms, carrying the same kind of weapons. You have coalition forces on the ground. You have agencies, intelligence-gathering agencies on the ground, fighting a type war, gathering information. All of this is trying to be sorted out by commanders in the area to make a proper decision, and at the same time, by the way, to try to negate collateral damage or injuring civilians.

So this process is very convoluted, and people say, well, it is micromanaged because we can't strike a target. Well, a the lot of problems there is because of that, those situations I just mentioned to you. So you just have to take it in stride about what you really -- is it really being micromanaged, or is it just the way the war has to be fought?

ZAHN: I think you so astutely described what that situation might be like on the ground, and I think you used the word convoluted, and you talked about the concerns about collateral damage. How concerned are you about American troops or any of our allied troops being killed by friendly fire, given the situation you described on the ground?

GRANGE: Well, our armed forces, as well as our close allies, are always very concerned about killing friendlies, friendly fire incidents and taking the lives of our own people, so they are concerned about that, and we do have special operating forces integrated with indigenous forces on the ground all over the place. And keeping track of that, by the way, a two-man team over this in this area and a British special-ops team several kilometers away. We have someone just changed sides, but he is an agent working for us. Very difficult, very difficult, probably to get clear towns fire. When you're getting shot at, you don't want it wait. You want stuff right now. And you have a fleeting target you want to take out right now, and the target will only be available maybe for a few seconds.

So it's very frustrating, but that's why good armies fight these kind of wars. It's just the nature of the business.

ZAHN: I need a brief answer to this one. Do you think Osama bin Laden's days are numbered?

GRANGE: There is no doubt in my mind, that bin Laden, if he isn't already killed, will be killed or captured. I doubt if he'll be captured. I think he'll have to be killed. I know we are focused right now in the international community from the different reports in the media in a 30-kilometers area, whatever. And maybe they have narrowed it down to certain areas, but I don't think one area. I think certain areas, because the support structure has been fractured, it's been taken away from him. The sanctuary has now been taken away from him, so he may be in Pakistan, he may still be in Afghanistan, but those areas where he may be are narrowed. So I think his days are limited, as well as, and probably more importantly, is his cadre, the infrastructure of his cadre all over the world. They have a lot of pressure on him, and that's just as important a target as bin Laden himself.

ZAHN: General David Grange, thank you for covering so much territory with us this morning. I think this is the first opportunity I've ever had to talk to you on TV. I've spoken with you on the telephone before. Thank you very much for your perspective.

GRANGE: My pleasure..

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