Rumsfeld Wants Training in Manhunts
Aug. 06, 2002
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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Pentagon wants U.S. forces to get special training in manhunts so they can nab al-Qaida operatives _ including Osama bin Laden _ who continue to elude them, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday.
In an interview, Rumsfeld said he wants military training refocused on ``the kinds of things that would better enable us to do the task at hand. And that is to help track down terrorists and terrorist networks, and deal with countries that harbor terrorists.''
Last month, Rumsfeld ordered Air Force Gen. Charles Holland, the head of the Special Operations Command to develop a more aggressive plan to apprehend or kill al-Qaida terrorists. Holland briefed Rumsfeld about the evolving plan last week.
Monday, Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, attended a meeting between President Bush and his foreign policy advisers to discuss new strategies for a possible invasion of Iraq.
Rumsfeld did not reveal specifics Monday, but said the campaign in Afghanistan is now more of a manhunt than a traditional military operation and he wants the skills of U.S. forces brought in line with that duty. The last large-scale military assault of the war was Operation Anaconda, in which troops tried to clean out a section of eastern Afghanistan.
``Our department was not organized, trained and equipped to do manhunts. We were organized, trained and equipped to deal with armies, navies and air forces,'' who now are not really the main threat, Rumsfeld said.
``What we do face are a set of capabilities and technologies and weapons of mass destruction that can cause enormous carnage in our country, and to our forces and friends and allies around the world,'' Rumsfeld said. ``To deal with that, you really have to organize, train and equip to address those kinds of capabilities, instead of just continuing what we were doing at the turn of the century.''
Rumsfeld spoke to reporters taking part in the National Journalists Roundtable, a forum that promotes increased access between top U.S. officials and African-American reporters.
When asked about news reports that he has grown impatient with the pursuit of al-Qaida, Rumsfeld denied being ``unhappy with the pace of things'' and praised U.S. commanders and forces who have those assignments.
``I think people have got that sense of urgency,'' he said. But there is not much more they can do in Afghanistan, Rumsfeld said, because al-Qaida have largely fled to neighboring countries.
``I can understand why the stories come out, because I am, I suppose, genetically impatient,'' Rumsfeld said. ``If everything were being done absolutely perfectly, I'd probably still be impatient. I'm anxious to see that we can stop any conceivable terrorist attack that it's possible to stop. I'm anxious to capture or kill any terrorists we can find. I'm anxious to see that countries (that) are harboring them stop doing that.''
Pakistan and Yemen have been very cooperative with U.S. efforts to hunt al-Qaida down, Rumsfeld said, but Iran and Iraq have not. And he expressed fears that al-Qaida will turn up in Indonesia, ``which is a worrisome place.''
The United States has been intercepting ships believed to have fugitives or contraband on board, Rumsfeld said. Those searches are being done in the Persian Gulf, around the horn of Africa and in the Mediterranean, but there are no plans to do them globally.
Rumsfeld denied that a U.S. attack on Iraq is imminent. But he noted the support Iraq's neighbors gave to the 1991 Gulf War and said this time around, ``I think you would find that countries would find a way publicly or privately to be supportive.''
``I don't know of anyone I've talked to in the region who would walk across the street to shake Saddam Hussein's hand,'' Rumsfeld said. ``If you sat down with the leadership of any country over there, you'd find they have a very low regard for that fellow. You'd also find they're much smaller countries, and much weaker. ... The little guy in the neighborhood is fairly careful about what he says.''
He advocated pre-emptive U.S. military action as a means of fighting terrorism _ ``I would use the phrase 'anticipatory self-defense,''' he said. He cited as an example the fighting in Afghanistan that ousted the Taliban, and said a similar case could be made with Iraq.
``The responsible thing to do today is to recognize there are states that are terrorist states. There are states that harbor terrorists,'' Rumsfeld said. ``If we lost 3,000 by having people take our aircraft and fly them into buildings, and if we're looking down the road at chemical or biological or nuclear weapons in the hands of these people, then you're talking about losing not 3,000, but 300,000, or a million.
``That is certainly something that people have to talk about, think about,'' Rumsfeld said. ``That's why the Senate is holding hearings. That's why people in the Congress are considering it, that's why people are writing about it in the press.''