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Revealed: US military strike plan

The United States will launch sustained military strikes against those behind the terrorist attacks as well as their support systems, a senior Pentagon official said.

In the most explicit description yet of the intentions of President George W Bush's administration, Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz today said the military retaliation would continue until the roots of terrorism are destroyed.

"One has to say it's not just simply a matter of capturing people and holding them accountable, but removing the sanctuaries, removing the support systems, ending states who sponsor terrorism," he told a news conference in a Pentagon briefing room that still smelled of smoke and soot.

Other defence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the administration was considering options that included the use of air, sea and land forces over a lengthy period. They said it was clear the administration would go well beyond the limited strikes of recent years against Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan.

Navy Secretary Gordon England said: "This is not going to be a short program."

Defence Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld, meanwhile, was considering asking for presidential authority to call to active duty members of the National Guard and Reserve, a defence official said. The last presidential call-up was in January 1991 when 265,322 reservists were federalised for the Gulf War.

In comments at the White House, Bush was less explicit than Wolfowitz about the military's role but emphatic that action would be taken in response to attacks that he has called acts of war.

"Now that war has been declared, we will lead the world to victory," Bush said.

Wolfowitz said the administration was not thinking of a limited response.

"One thing that is clear is you don't do it with just a single military strike, no matter how dramatic," he said.

A senior White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bush is planning a sweeping campaign against terrorist groups that could last several years. The official seemed to be bracing the public for the likelihood that, although Bush may not act quickly, he will act forcefully with a series of strikes.

The Navy has two aircraft carrier battle groups - each with 75 warplanes aboard - in the vicinity of the Arabian Sea, said Adm. Vern Clark, the chief of naval operations. That is twice the usual number for that part of the world. The USS Enterprise, which was due to return home after being relieved earlier this month by the USS Carl Vinson, has been ordered to remain in the area indefinitely.

Those battle groups normally include cruisers and submarines, which could be used to launch long-range cruise missile strikes, perhaps as part of a prelude to attacks by manned aircraft such as B-2 stealth bombers or B-1 Lancers.

There were no indications today of a buildup of American forces in the Middle East or elsewhere.

Neither Wolfowitz nor other defence officials hinted at when the United States might begin military strikes. On Capitol Hill, some lawmakers urged the administration to gather more information about the perpetrators of Tuesday's attacks and their supporters.

"This has got to be a very sophisticated inquiry," said Republican Senator Dick Lugar, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Lugar was asked whether he believed the United States should launch a huge military response.

"There's no way of being able to decide that prior to knowing how extensive the harbouring or aiding and abetting and organising is," he said. "That is why I would counsel that we'd better know that before we begin suggesting particular tactics of retaliation."

Wolfowitz would not discuss specific military options.

"We're going to keep after these people and the people who support them until this stops," he said.

Wolfowitz said part of the emergency funds the president is seeking from Congress will be used to strengthen US military readiness for the fight against terrorism.

Another portion of the extra money will pay the mounting costs of combat air patrols that have been flying over major American cities, including Washington, since the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

Yesterday, Rumsfeld said in a message to US troops worldwide that some among them would be called to join the battle against "powerful and terrible enemies".

-- Martin Thompson (, September 13, 2001


Now that war has been declared? Did Congress declare war?

What is going on here?

-- Ken (, September 13, 2001.

Whether we declare war or not, there is only one solution to this problem once and for all. Like the man said-WE MUST TAKE OUT THESE STATES THAT SUPPORT THIS. Whatever it takes. We have the power. No one could stop us. All we need is the will. We could have them on their knees in a matter of months. They would serve up ther heads of their leaders with a smile. They will thank us for it.

-- JIMMIE THE WEED (THINKASUR@AOL.COM), September 13, 2001.

Yes, but do we even know WHO is ultimately behind this yet? I mean, there are guesses, but for sure??

-- Tess (, September 14, 2001.

Whatever it takes. We have the power. No one could stop us. All we need is the will. We could have them on their knees in a matter of months. They would serve up ther heads of their leaders with a smile. They will thank us for it.

They will smile until we think we've won and relax. And then, as in Vietnam, they will serve us their ten-year-old babes, persuaded to be suicide bombers, who will cuddle up to GI Joe with big cute thankful smiles and pull the pin. As in Vietnam. My Lai was a horror, but one committed by men themselves horrified by the fact that the enemy was not just the other side's fighting men but frail old grandmothers and bright-eyed grandchildren -- in short, just about everybody. Nobody likes to be bullied, not even for the "best" of reasons. We could bring them to their knees. And they will never forget, and for seven times seven generations, they will long to do the same by us, by our descendants.

Who do we have to be, to STOP this -- here, now, this generation? Do we have that kind of will?

-- L. Hunter Cassells (, September 14, 2001.

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