December 10, 2001
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US may place forces in multiple nations

T V Parasuram

The United States is planning further military action in the global war against terrorism that includes placing Special Operations Forces in multiple countries simultaneously.

Defence Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld is reported to be eager to go after Al Qaeda cells outside Afghanistan.

"Rumsfeld wanted to start yesterday (Sunday)," one senior administration official said.

The defence secretary, who expects a lengthy global war, has spoken frequently with General Charles R Holland, head of the US Special Operations Command, about how commandos could be used in countries outside Afghanistan, the official told The Washington Times.

"We need forces in other parts of the world. Everybody here has his own list of countries: Iraq, Somalia, the Philippines. Take your pick," the official said.

Pentagon planners are already discussing whether the Afghanistan model -- relentless air strikes, commandos and US-invigorated opposition groups -- could be employed to unseat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The air force is studying how to attack suspected sites of weapons of mass destruction.

The US Central Command, which is waging the war in Afghanistan and would oversee any operations against Hussein, has been updating the target list, they said.

Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz said on Sunday that the US has won some promises from Yemen on going after Al Qaeda. "There are some serious problems with Al Qaeda cells in Yemen. We think the Yemenis have the message, and they will go after them," he said.

Asked what theatre is next for his command in the war on terrorism, General Franks on Friday pointed to a map of his area of responsibility and said: "You also find Somalia. One finds Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula there. Moving over to the northeast, Afghanistan, and then, to the northwest of that, Iran and Iraq."

"In terms of what we expect to do next, I will only say that the Central Command retains an interest in the countries that are represented within the AOR. And the list of terrorist states I think has been published by the State Department, and so one can surmise where we are paying the greatest amount of attention."

The question facing the Pentagon and regional commanders, said the paper, is how to mould specific operations to take down terrorist cells of different types in different terrains -- the mountains of Afghanistan, the flag desert of Somalia, or the jungles of the Philippines.

The officials said some countries, viewing the demise of the Taliban militia, may succumb to diplomatic and financial pressure to stop sponsoring terrorism.

"I think if people haven't gotten the message from the Taliban about the dangers of harbouring terrorists, they just haven't been paying attention," Wolfowitz said.


America's War on Terror: The Complete Coverage
The Attack on US Cities: The Complete Coverage

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