Ground troops to go in "sooner rather than later"!greenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
I think *this* might be why we're getting the 24-hour warning now... Also, please do see Stu's "ATTN: EAS STAFF!" thread at TB2K. There is now a confirming article from the New York Times which echos Stu's statements - this is the "real deal"!
Troops will go in 'sooner, not later'
By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent (Filed: 13/10/2001)
GROUND troops are expected to go into Afghanistan sooner rather than later if the Taliban fail to take advantage of the pause in bombing to hand over Osama bin Laden, senior defence sources said yesterday.
Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, admitted that the imminent onset of winter meant that time was running out. He said: "Everyone knows that the weather in a few weeks' time in Afghanistan will be particularly difficult."
But small-scale insertions of special forces - such as the SAS and its American equivalent, Delta Force - for reconnaissance purposes are unlikely to be affected by the winter, and it may even help them.
Small SAS and Delta Force teams are already on the ground to liaise with the Northern Alliance.
The alliance is expected to be used as a proxy force, and for directing air attacks on cave systems thought to be used by bin Laden's men.
But the allies urgently need a forward operations base and simply taking control of that will require several thousand troops, expected to be Green Berets and members of the 10th Mountain Division, which is now based in Uzbekistan.
The allies have an advantage in that the best option, an all-weather air base designed to remain operational throughout the harsh Afghan winter at Bagram, north of Kabul, is in the hands of the Northern Alliance.
The problem will be removing the Taliban and their hand-held, surface-to-air Stinger missiles from the mountains on its southern edge.
That is why the 10th Mountain Division has been moved to Uzbekistan to train alongside the Green Berets in preparation to take control of Bagram.
It will not only provide a forward operations base for special forces operations, but also a runway from which American F15 Strike Eagle and RAF Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft could patrol the skies over Afghanistan.
The main ground operations are likely to be "snatch" operations, with special forces like the SAS taking the lead, backed up by a larger "force protection" contingent such as the British Parachute Regiment.
The units likely to lead such operations are:
The Special Air Service, the model for the world's leading special forces units. Set up in 1941 to carry out operations behind enemy lines, it created the concept of the four-man team. It includes men with experience of similar operations in Oman.
The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta, better known as Delta Force, the American equivalent of the SAS on which it is based. Set up at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 1977 by an officer who had served with the SAS, it has snatched war criminals in former Yugoslavia.
The US navy's Special Warfare Development Group, better known as Seal Team Six, was set up in the early 1980s. Based at Dam Neck, Virginia, it is believed to number about 200 men, again broken down into four-man teams, with four teams making up an assault group.
The Royal Marines Special Boat Service, formed like the SAS out of small special forces, and set up during the Second World War when they acquired the nickname the Cockleshell Heroes. They are based at Poole, Dorset, and have been trained to storm liners or North Sea oil rigs taken over by terrorists.
The Australian Special Air Service Regiment is based on its British counterpart and has liaison officers with both the SAS and Delta Force, who regard it very highly. It served in Borneo and Vietnam, where it was so successful that the Viet Cong put a $5,000 bounty on the head of each of the Ma Rung, or Jungle Ghosts.
The units expected to provide protection are:
The 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Benning, Georgia. It has three battalions, each of about 600 men. The Rangers, regarded by the Americans as special forces, are essentially light, airborne infantry.
US Army Special Forces, Airborne, better known as the Green Berets. Split into seven "Special Forces Groups" of about 1,200 men, they made their name in Korea and Vietnam. They were also involved in the 1968 operation to hunt Che Guevara in Bolivia. Two battalions are in Uzbekistan.
The Parachute Regiment. Its members wear the famous red beret. It was formed in 1940 on Churchill's order and fought with distinction throughout the Second World War, most famously at Arnhem. Operations in the Falklands and Sierra Leone created a new generation of regimental heroes. It is based at Colchester, Essex.
Royal Marine Commandos wear green berets. During the Second World War, they angered Hitler to the point where he ordered them to be "annihilated". They are based at Plymouth, Arbroath and Taunton, but are now handily placed on exercise in Oman. Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, Chief of the Defence Staff, has suggested they might be used in Afghanistan.
The French Foreign Legion. Created in 1831, the Legion famously fought in post-war French Indochina, particularly at Dien Bien Phu, and the Algerian war of independence.
Fair use, for educational purposes.
-- Anonymous, October 13, 2001
And the Taliban's response? "No."
Saturday October 13 8:49 AM ET
Taliban Snub 'Second Chance' Offer
By KATHY GANNON and AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writers
KABUL, Afghanistan (news - web sites) (AP) - Afghanistan's ruling Taliban have rejected President Bush (news - web sites)'s ``second chance'' offer to surrender terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), a Taliban official said Saturday.
Word of the rebuff came as warplanes took to the skies in a seventh straight day of airstrikes, pounding areas around Kabul and Kandahar. People living near the scene of the Kabul strikes said at least one civilian was killed and four hurt.
A Taliban official in Kabul, asked about the Bush offer, said the militia's position had not changed.
``We will not hand over him to America without getting credible evidence about his involvement in terrorism,'' said Mullah Khaksar Akhund, the deputy interior minister. ``Our policy is still the same.''
The Taliban statement was a response to Bush's assertion in a news conference Thursday that if the Islamic militia were to ``cough him up and his people today,'' then the United States would ``reconsider what we're doing to your country.''
``You still have a second chance,'' Bush said. ``Just bring him in, and bring his leaders and lieutenants and other thugs and criminals with him.''
The Saturday morning airstrikes followed a hiatus in the U.S.-led campaign for most of Friday, the Muslim holy day. The air assault was launched Oct. 7 after weeks of fruitless efforts by the United States to get the Taliban to hand over bin Laden, the key suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (news - web sites).
A pre-dawn sortie hit the area around Kabul's airport, and people living in a nearby neighborhood said one person was killed and four wounded. Four destroyed houses could be seen.
``We have no way to rebuild our homes,'' said Mohammed Shoaib, whose house was one of those wrecked. ``What will we do?''
``Osama is not in Kabul - he is not living in mud houses of poor people,'' said another Kabul man, moneychanger Mohammed Wali. ``We should not be attacked.''
The southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold, was targeted in a midmorning strike. In Kabul, Taliban Information Minister Kudarat Ullah Jamal said the city's airport was hit.
He said several houses were destroyed and ``a lot of people'' killed. The claim could not be independently verified.
In neighboring Pakistan, a new confrontation was simmering between the government and anti-U.S., pro-Taliban demonstrators.
A radical Islamic leader, Abdullah Shah Mazar, was detained Saturday by authorities in the port city of Karachi, and hundreds of his followers staged a sit-down strike in protest.
On Friday, thousands of demonstrators clashed with police in Karachi, hurling stones and setting a fast-food restaurant ablaze. Police shot tear gas, and eventually gunfire, in response.
Meanwhile, U.S. allies challenged the veracity of a Taliban report that 200 villagers were killed in a missile strike this week. British officials dismissed Taliban claims of mass civilian deaths as propaganda.
Independent verification of reports from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is almost impossible. Foreign journalists are barred, and Afghan journalists are not allowed to move about and report freely.
Reports of civilian deaths caused unease for Pakistan, already facing an angry backlash from militant Islamic groups over its support for the United States against bin Laden and the Taliban.
``We have been assured again and again that only terrorists and those who provide protection to terrorists will be targeted,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammed Khan told journalists on Friday.
The British undersecretary of defense, Lewis Moonie, suggested Friday there could be a slowdown in bombing for the next several days because of the Muslim festival commemorating the mystical journey of the Prophet Muhammad to heaven.
``I would not be surprised if activity was much less over this weekend,'' he said in London on Friday.
Commemorations vary among Muslim countries, with some celebrating the holiday Friday or Saturday and others not until Monday. It is observed Monday in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Also Saturday, the Taliban dismissed persistent reports of mass defections of its fighters to the opposition alliance in Afghanistan's north.
``These reports are baseless - there are no defections among the Taliban,'' said Jamal, the Taliban information minister. ``We are united and ready to fight against opposition and American troops. We are ready to sacrifice our lives for the cause of Islam.''
Fair use, for educational purposes.
-- Anonymous, October 13, 2001
Another article on troops:
Military Preparing for Next Phase By MATT KELLEY, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - American soldiers are poised for another phase in the strikes against Taliban and terrorist targets in Afghanistan (news - web sites): action on the ground, rather than just from the air.
Although U.S. officials won't talk publicly about specifics, special forces are sure to take a prominent role. Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested Friday that this week's airstrikes were a prelude to ground action.
``Many of the conventional efforts that you see today are stage- setters for follow-on operations,'' Myers told reporters at a Pentagon (news - web sites) briefing. ``Some of those efforts may be visible, but many will not.''
After a pause Friday for the Muslim day of worship, the U.S. strikes continued Saturday morning as several earthshaking explosions hit the north side of Kabul.
Military officials have said the airstrikes are becoming increasingly focused on mobile targets, such as convoys of troops for the Taliban, the militia that is sheltering suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and his al-Qaida network.
In other developments:
-A law enforcement official said prosecutors are investigating whether some of the people in custody in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks were planning additional attacks. In Arizona, Faisal Michael al Salmi was indicted on charges he lied to the FBI (news - web sites) when he said he did not know Hani Hanjour, suspected of piloting the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
-The Treasury Department (news - web sites) added 39 groups and individuals to its list of terrorist-related owners of financial assets who should have their accounts frozen.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the U.S.-led bombing has damaged or destroyed nearly all the al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan, including some of the camps' defenses. Other officials have said the camps were largely empty when struck this week.
``We have worked over a number, if not all, of their terrorist training camps,'' Rumsfeld told reporters Friday. ``Those camps have been locations where terrorists that are today's threat across the globe have been trained. Threats clearly still exist.''
Myers said U.S. warplanes would remain in position to strike at ``emerging targets'' - newly discovered military targets or unforeseen movements of Taliban or al-Qaida forces or leaders.
Navy F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets flying from an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea are searching for those targets. Long-range bombers flying from the United States and the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia took a break from the action Friday but were likely to return to the skies soon, officials said.
Meanwhile, a senior U.S. defense official said al-Qaida is believed to possess chlorine, phosgene and other poison gases that it could, with some difficulty, use as weapons. It also may have biological toxins, said the official, who discussed the matter on condition of anonymity. He did not provide any detail.
Such poison gases are relatively crude chemical weapons and it is unlikely that al-Qaida has the means to kill large numbers of people with them, the official said.
He also said it is likely that some Taliban commanders have defected to the northern alliance of opposition groups now fighting the radical Islamic militia, which controls most of Afghanistan. The official said the scale of the defections was unclear. Rumsfeld refused to discuss defections.
Myers said ``bunker-busting'' bombs have been used against buried targets, including caves were al-Qaida leaders are believed to be hiding. Rumsfeld has indicated that some underground targets include caves where munitions may be stored.
He said Thursday that photos of strikes against underground facilities earlier in the week showed enormous secondary explosions that in some cases went on for several hours.
-- Anonymous, October 13, 2001