Skip to comments.Strike By Army Rangers Masked Raid By Elite Unit
Posted on 10/20/2001 3:51:29 PM PDT by jokemoke
Saturday October 20 02:56 PM EDT
Strike by Army Rangers Masked Raid by Elite Unit, Official Says
By ERIC SCHMITT and THOM SHANKER The New York Times The raid into southern Afghanistan overnight Friday attacked Taliban military targets and masked a smaller mission to uncover Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders. The overt goal of the airborne assault, executed in a hit-and-run strike over several hours by more than 100 Army Rangers and other Special Forces, was to destroy underground bunkers, arms storage sites and air defense locations in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, a Defense Department official said today. Operations were carried out at more than one location there, the official said.
But the covert action aimed at the Taliban leadership was shrouded from view. It may still be under way or could resume soon, spurred by intelligence gathered from the overnight raid or in anticipation of movement or other responses by the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the aftermath of the attacks, the official said.
Army Rangers have in the past operated in tandem with the Army's secret counterterrorist unit, Delta Force. For example, the Rangers, the service's elite infantry, can create a flashy diversion so small Delta teams can carry out their mission. Or they can execute a more forceful entry than the Delta commandos could do themselves given their small numbers.
As the war on terrorism entered a new and dangerous ground phase, Pentagon officials this morning would not say whether the overnight mission had met its goals, and released only sketchy details.
President Bush, speaking from an economic summit gathering in Shanghai, hinted at the true aim of the mission. "We are destroying terrorist hideaways," he said. "We are slowly but surely encircling the terrorists so that we can bring them to justice."
Mr. Bush said that he mourned the loss of two servicemen killed in a helicopter accident related to the mission.
"There will be moments of sacrifice," the president said late this morning, as he was about to begin a meeting with the Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi. "We've seen two such examples today."
The president held a secure video-teleconference this morning with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was at his ranch in Taos, N.M., and with Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs, participating from Washington.
Congressional leaders who were briefed by administration officials on the operation expressed support for the mission. "The military campaign has proceeded just as it should," Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, the majority leader, said through a spokesman. "It's not an assault on Islam or the Afghan people, but on terrorists and those who harbor them."
Airstrikes resumed over Afghanistan today, as B-1 and B-52 bombers and carrier-based FA-18's and F-14's dropped laser-guided and satellite-guided bombs during daytime raids over Kabul, the Afghan capital, Kandahar and Herat. "It's the same level as it's been the past few days robust," said Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman.
The Pentagon said that the two American servicemen killed in a supporting rescue mission had not crossed into Afghanistan. Defense officials said today that at least one other person aboard the helicopter was injured in the accident.
They declined to say whether there were any American casualties in the commando raid, although all helicopters involved in the raid reported safely back to the carrier Kitty Hawk in the Arabian Sea.
A senior Defense Department official denied Taliban reports that the helicopter had been shot down. Military and Pakistani officials said the aircraft crashed while landing at the Dalbandin air base in Pakistan, about 60 miles from the Afghan border.
The crash was caused by "a brown-out," the Defense Department official said, and cited initial reports describing a huge cloud of dust kicked up by the wash of the rotor blades upon landing, which apparently disoriented the pilot or interfered with the equipment.
One officer said the helicopter that crashed was an Army Blackhawk, the main heavily armed troop carrier for all Army forces. The Special Forces use a specially equipped version that provides better capabilities at night and can be refueled in the air.
The accident brings to three the number of American troops killed since the United States-led military campaign began two weeks ago with airstrikes aimed at Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, and the government that is protecting him. A master sergeant was killed last week in a forklift accident while constructing an air strip in the Gulf state of Qatar.
Pakistan agreed today to allow American forces to use a fourth base, Shamsi, located near the convergence of the borders of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. The base was built for wealthy Saudi sheiks who indulged in world-class falconry there.
The United States is already using bases in Pasni, Jacobabad and Dalbandin for search-and-rescue missions and as staging areas for Special Forces. "Now our commanders need to prepare and decide whether to take action in Kabul," Mr. Rabbani said. North of Kabul, the resistance faces dug-in Taliban troops whose front lines so far have been largely spared from American bombing.
At a briefing here today, Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special representative for Afghanistan, discussed the future of Afghanistian in the event the Taliban were deposed. He spoke out against the idea of sending a United Nations peacekeeping force or any other armed foreign force to govern Afghanistan once the current military campaign ends.
"The Afghans wouldn't look fondly on foreigners with guns ruling them," Mr. Brahimi said.
Instead, he said, he reiterated in discussions with American officials here on Friday that the best solution would be for the United Nations to assist in negotiations with the warring parties to put together a council of national unity to govern the country.
He said that while the United Nations was committed to the rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of Afghanistan, it was "too early to say what formula would be suitable" for an international presence after the war ended.
Secretary General Kofi Annan has said he believes that he has weeks, not years, to help pull together a unified Afghan authority that could become a transitional government, bolstered by a huge committment of aid and expertise from the United Nations and member countries.
"Something is going to happen very suddenly and we won't have time to negotiate," said Fred Eckhard, the United Nations spokesman. "Unlike Cambodia, we don't have years to negotiate a settlement among the warring parties, we could only have weeks."
Mr. Brahimi said no group should be excluded from an Afghan transitional authority, especially since the current armed factions did not represent the vast majority of Afghan people.
"The 25 million Afghans have been hostage to these factions that don't represent more than 50,000, 60,000 maybe 70,000 people," he said.
Mr. Brahimi's top priority for the moment is getting food aid into the country in the next several weeks, before winter sets in and Muslim holy days of Ramadan begin.
"I think there are millions at risk not because of the bombing campaign but because of the drought and civil war," he said.
He also told the American officials in private meetings that the immediate problem for the humanitarianrelief effort is money. The United Nations has received only 10 percent of the $600 million pledged by countries for food relief to Afghanistan. In some instances, the U.N. has been unable to write the necessary checks for food and logistics expenses.
As an aside, I just heard Morton Kondracke on FOX news saying that the Democrats are happy that Bush is in charge now NOT because it is him, but because of his Defense team! Morton agreed with that.
They just don't get it, and never will, because of course, they don't want to.
Good post Jokey.
Mr Brahimi should be corrected: Two groups will be excluded - the UN and the Taliban.
Should probably have read "Strike by Army Rangers Masked Raid by ANOTHER Elite Unit"!!!
Yes. The history of this war will be very interesting.
In the meantime we can be sure that whatever our men are up to it is bringing gigantic loads of grief to the enemy.
Hmmmm... didn't seem to hinder OBL- a Saudi who is guarded by Arab troops- none of whom are Afghani.
As Dubya says, "we are slowly but surely circling the enemy." Sooner or later they will have to come out of their caves.
They are begging us to fight on their terms so they can ambush us.......Ain't gonna happen!
My guess is, in attacking the garrison, the Rangers were able to detect responses to the raid. Perhaps also, they could locate documents which would provide further intelligence. Very Well Done Soldiers!
BWAAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...either that or melting before their very eyes....muahahhahahahahhahahahahahahha....
And the Rangers are fighting a little more "elite" than usual -- given that this is long-overdue payback.
I want results, not fodder for some left-wing journos.