of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers
October 9, 2001
1:14 P.M. EDT
RUMSFELD: Good afternoon. The military campaign continued last night with strikes
against Taliban and al Qaeda military targets throughout the country. Chairman
Myers is here and will provide a more detailed battle damage assessment from
the first night's strikes, and an initial assessment from yesterday's strikes.
We have struck several terrorist training camps, we've damaged most of the airfields
-- I believe all but one, as well as their anti-aircraft radars and launchers.
And with the success of previous raids, we believe we are now able to carry
out strikes more or less around the clock, as we wish.
In short, we're moving along well towards our goal of creating conditions necessary
to conduct a sustained campaign to root out terrorists and to deliver the humanitarian
relief to the civilians in Afghanistan, as we are able.
We've seen the reports that four Afghan men, who may have been associated with
a contractor dealing with the U.N., may have been killed. We have no information
from the ground to verify this, and we have no information that would let us
know whether it was a result of ordnance fired from the air or the ordnance
that we've seen fired from the ground on television. Nonetheless, we regret
a loss of life.
Terrorists attacked and killed thousands of innocent people in dozens of countries
of all races and religions in the United States on Tuesday, the 11th. Innocent
lives are still at risk today, and will be until we have dealt with the terrorists.
If there were an easy, safe way to root terrorist networks out of countries
that are harboring them, it would be a blessing. But there is not. Coalition
forces will continue to make every reasonable effort to select targets with
the least possible unintended damage. But as in any conflict, there will be
Let me emphasize that these are strikes against the Taliban and the foreign
terrorists that they've invited into their country, not the people of Afghanistan.
We stand with the Afghan people, who are suffering under the oppressive Taliban
regime and who do not want their nation to be a base from which foreign terrorists
wage war on the rest of the world. We thus have a common interest in ridding
Afghanistan of this terrorist presence and those who invite and sustain and
To free Afghanistan from the foreign terrorists, we continue to use every diplomatic,
economic, financial, and law enforcement resource at our command. We've continued
our humanitarian relief efforts for the Afghan people, dropping some 37,000
rations each day into Afghanistan territory. Yesterday I indicated that along
with the rations, we had begun dropping medical supplies, but because we are
not able to drop medical supplies from the same altitudes and in the same way
that we drop food, we have not done so, and as we determine the medical needs,
we will be using different methods to deliver those supplies.
These strikes, as I have said, are part of a long and sustained campaign. We
will not stop until the international terrorist networks have been dealt with.
MYERS: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Our forces continue operations against the
al Qaeda network and those who support them. Let me give you an overview. As
of midnight last night Washington time, U.S. forces struck 13 targets yesterday,
using between five and eight land-based bombers and 10 to 15 strike aircraft.
Also used about 15 Tomahawk missiles fired from two ships and one submarine.
And in addition, as the secretary said, we dropped another 37,500 humanitarian
The broad category of targets included air fields, air defense, communications
and, as I mentioned, the al Qaeda infrastructure and forces.
I want to show you the areas that we hit on days one and two. As you'll see
from the first slide, we covered many targets throughout the country. You'll
also notice a few targets in the vicinity of Kabul. I want you to know that
these targets were all outside of the town.
As seen on the next slide, day-two targets were also well dispersed. We did
well in our initial strikes, damaging or destroying about 85 percent of the
first set of 31 targets. But as in any military operation, we were not perfect.
I did however promise you some damage assessment, and have some examples of
targets and damage.
The first one is a terrorist training camp in southeast Afghanistan near Kandahar.
As you can tell from the first photo, it's fairly empty, but it is part of al
Qaeda's infrastructure. Here you see the camp pre-strike, and now here is the
We also have a SAM site near the Kandahar airfield. The following photo shows
you the SAM destroyed.
And finally, here is an airfield at Shindand, Afghanistan in western Afghanistan.
And you see here the results of the strike.
As we speak, of course, military operations are ongoing. But as we are continually
updating and adapting our plans, I won't have the numbers of aircraft or the
targets until the day after we complete our action.
So with that, ladies and gentlemen, the secretary and I will take your questions.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, could I ask, did the United States target the compound of
Mullah Omar overnight, and perhaps bin Laden's compound also? And the Northern
Alliance is requesting airstrike attacks against Taliban forces arrayed against
them between them and Kabul. Do you plan on launching such attacks?
RUMSFELD: The question -- the first question involved the -- I don't --
QUESTION: The compound of Mullah Omar.
RUMSFELD: Right. I'm trying to think how to respond to that. You asked also
about bin Laden's -- I don't know that he has a compound, as such -- bin Laden.
Omar has several. And I -- as I recall, there were some elements outside of
one of his compounds that probably were targeted.
QUESTION: And the strikes against Afghan military forces arrayed against the Northern
RUMSFELD: Can you speak up a little?
QUESTION: The strikes against Afghan military forces, which are now between the Northern
Alliance and Kabul.
RUMSFELD: My recollection is there were some ground forces that were targeted
in the North, but I don't know that they were directly on the line near the
MYERS: No, but that is correct, it's --
QUESTION: But you have started aiding the Northern Alliance by striking forces arrayed
MYERS: What we're trying to do militarily, of course, is defeat the terrorists,
the network and infrastructure that supports them, not particularly support
any particular element. But as we can help with those kind of targets and people
that can help us, of course we'll take that input.
QUESTION: General Myers, you showed us the terrorist camp that was pretty much leveled.
But is there any indication that the airstrikes were able to actually strike
at and hit some of the bin Laden terrorist network, the operatives themselves?
MYERS: As I said in the statement, the camps, Mik, were not heavily populated
at the time we hit them. But the infrastructure is very important to terrorist
training. Terrorists have been using -- the al Qaeda network has been using
those terrorist training camps for several years. And so we're going to deny
them the opportunity to continue to use them.
QUESTION: But what specifically does that deny them? It looked like a series of buildings
that could easily be reconstructed or they could just move their operation elsewhere.
What does leveling that camp that was not heavily populated, what does that
deny them? What effect does that really have?
MYERS: It's their whole -- that's where they have their classrooms, that's where
they discuss their various methods. It has firing ranges and other training
facilities that allow them to practice. And, of course, it takes all that away.
It would be like destroying Quantico, Virginia, for instance, the training complex
there. So I think it would have a --
RUMSFELD: I would add this. The runways that are damaged are not permanently
damaged, either. I mean, anything can be repaired, and they can bulldoze in
and fill it over some period of time. But all of it adds costs, all of it adds
time, and all of it puts pressure on them.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said, "We believe we'll be able to carry out strikes,
airstrikes, around the clock as we wish." Does this mean, then, that you
would move to another phase, and I'm speaking specifically of a possible larger
role for ground forces, now?
RUMSFELD: We're not in a position of discussing future considerations.
QUESTION: Is there any indication that terrorists associated with al Qaeda are fleeing
RUMSFELD: We do, you know, pick up scraps of information that some things like
that are happening. It's very difficult to verify them. But it's pretty clear
that the Taliban and the al Qaeda are feeling some pressure.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, when the United States and the NATO partners tried to go after
fielded forces in Kosovo, we were not very successful, in the final analysis.
What makes you think that that has changed now, that you will be more successful?
And as you said yesterday, since bombs and missiles will not rock the Taliban
back on its heels, it seems that if that's true and you can't accomplish this
by air power, somebody's going to have to put ground forces in, and if not ours,
RUMSFELD: Well, I'm not -- as you know, I have been careful to not rule out
anything, and I have not ruled out anything, and nor has the president. What
we have said is that this is a different situation, and it is. It is notably
different in a lot of respects from the things that we all are used to from
The pressures that are being applied across the full spectrum are not as visible.
But the fact of the matter is that the Department of Justice and associated
agencies in other countries have arrested literally hundreds of people and are
interrogating them. The Department of Treasury, and with cooperation from nations
across the globe, have frozen a great many bank accounts and frozen millions
of dollars of assets that are connected to terrorist organizations. The Department
of State, in close cooperation with friends and nations all across the globe,
has been putting a great deal of diplomatic pressure, and nations have severed
their relationships. And I can assure you that other nations are looking to
themselves and to their circumstance and the extent to which they might be seen
as creating an environment hospitable to terrorists and terrorism, and making
adjustments in how they behave.
The intelligence communities of a great many nations across the globe are receiving
information from all kinds of people. Now, that is not going up on a scoreboard
at Wrigley Field every day showing what's happening.
But it is there, and it is growing, and it is adding pressure every single day.
And what has been done that's visible by the Department of Defense is contributing
to that. And it is not going to be any one of those things standing alone that's
going to determine it, but it's the aggregation of that, sustained over a period
of time, that will in fact, we believe, prove to be successful.
QUESTION: Can I do a follow-up, please? Just a follow-up. Just to follow-up, please.
You say you're running out of targets though, Mr. Secretary, and going back
to the fielded forces. What are you going to continue to hit?
RUMSFELD: Well, for one thing, we're finding that some of the targets we hit
need to be re-hit. Second, we're not running out of targets, Afghanistan is.
And I would add that they are emerging as we continue. That is to say that if
you figure out a set piece before the fact, select categories of targets, make
judgments as to which day or what period you're going to hit them and you do
that, and then you say that coming up now, and tomorrow, and whenever, that
we will be gathering additional intelligence from the ground and through various
intelligence assets that will enable us to seize targets of opportunity, and
that means you have to wait until they emerge. Now, that's the way it is. They
don't have armies and navies and air forces. We announced that the first day.
QUESTION: General, you said you're not here to help any particular element in the country.
Why wouldn't you be assisting the Northern Alliance? They say they have 15,000
fighters against the Taliban. Is it because you're afraid of upsetting Pakistan,
which is against the Northern Alliance?
MYERS: No. And I'd rather -- I mean, that starts to get into the tactics of
the situation. As the secretary said, we're not going to discuss the tactics.
But we are trying to set the conditions inside that country that terrorism will
no longer be supported.
QUESTION: Well again, they say they're going to mount a counter-offensive in days,
if not a week. They're looking for air cover. You're saying you're not going
to support them in that effort?
MYERS: No, I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that we're going to try
to set the conditions, and it may take many forms. That is a possibility, but
I'm not telling you we're going to do that.
RUMSFELD: I would add that -- let there be no doubt, those elements on the ground
-- the tribes in the South, the Northern Alliance, elements within Taliban that
are anti-al Qaeda -- we're encouraging them. We would like to see them succeed.
We would like to see them heave the al Qaeda and the Taliban leadership that
has been so repressive, out of that country. Don't make any mistake about that.
QUESTION: Then why don't you give them air cover?
RUMSFELD: He did not say we would not.
MYERS: When we start getting into the tactics of tomorrow's operation, we're
just not going to talk about that.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, have you taken any military action to disrupt opium production
in Afghanistan, since that is, apparently, a major source of income for the
RUMSFELD: Not at this time.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, there are pilots coming back to the carriers saying that they've
been unable to drop all their munitions because of the lack of targets. At the
same time, you have the president of Pakistan saying that he hopes that the
American military action will be of short duration.
Don't you run a risk, the longer that this goes, that you are going to see greater
and greater resistance, and possibly violent demonstrations in countries where
there's enormous opposition to the American military?
RUMSFELD: When you are looking for emerging targets and an aircraft is up with
weaponry and prepared to strike an emerging target and an emerging target does
not emerge, it's not a surprise that the aircraft returns back with the weapons.
Second, with respect to demonstrations, there are demonstrations all across
the globe almost every day in one country or another. This is not something
that's new. And the care and the measured way that the president and the United
States government and our coalition allies have proceeded with this, when balanced
against the threat to people all across this globe from terrorist networks,
it is clear to me that what we are doing is right and will be seen as right,
and that we will ultimately, over time, be successful.
MYERS: May I add --
QUESTION: You said your --
RUMSFELD: Just a second. Just a second.
MYERS: Let me just follow up on that just a second, just to emphasize what the
secretary said earlier. You know, if you try to quantify what we're doing today
in terms of previous conventional wars, you're making a huge mistake. That is
"old think" and that will not help you analyze what we're doing. So
if bombs are brought back or if bombs are expended, the numbers really are not
all that important -- in some cases irrelevant. And that's what we've been trying
to tell you for three days. It's a different kind of conflict, and it's not
just a military conflict.
QUESTION: General, your second day map showed, I think, a humanitarian symbol down
on the border with Pakistan, South-central. What was that?
Was that an airdrop in southern Afghanistan?
MYERS: In both days, they were airdrops out of C-17 aircraft.
QUESTION: But it looked way down in Taliban-controlled part of the country.
MYERS: They are in -- all the drops have been coordinated with USAID [United
States Agency for International Development], and we drop where they say the
need is the greatest.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the latest strikes, apparently there was some AAA [anti-aircraft
artillery] aircraft fire at aircraft near Kabul. I wonder if that's a concern
for you. You say you're getting some control of the skies. Still, what is your
latest assessment of the control of the skies? And is that a concern?
MYERS: I think essentially we have air supremacy over Afghanistan. There will
always be the anti-aircraft fire. There's always the possibility of these manned
portable surface-to-air missiles. But the tactics that we'll utilize will keep
us out of their range. And so, again, I think we feel like we have essentially
air supremacy over Afghanistan now.
RUMSFELD: I would add that a number of their aircraft are still available to
them, as well as helicopters.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can we deal with the humanitarian food situation for just
a moment? The 37,000 meals in two different aircraft on two different days,
in one respect it's a remarkable thing that the U.S. is doing; but the aid workers
on the borders say it's a PR gesture, it's woefully inadequate, why not 10 planes,
why not 50 planes, trying to drop more food because the need, as you, yourself,
have said, is so desperate?
RUMSFELD: The preferred way to deliver food is not from the air, it is from
the ground. And the president's proposal to move from the $170 million that
has been invested in food for Afghan people thus far this year to a substantially
larger effort of $320 million will be essentially, one would hope, a ground
effort. And to do that, one has to create a situation on the ground where that's
possible. And, you know, anyone looking at it understands that delivering from
the air is not your first choice.
QUESTION: You said they don't have armies, navies and air forces, but yet you say that
you have hit ground forces in Afghanistan. I'm wondering if you can give a sense
of the size of the troop masses and --
QUESTION: "Modest" is -- can you give a rough estimate of what modest means?
RUMSFELD: Well, you know, they're in relatively small sizes, hundreds, not thousands.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary?
QUESTION: As far as talking about intelligence, are we getting enough help from Pakistan?
Because General Musharraf has -- he has fired most of his top military aides
and intelligence officers. So where do we stand now?
And also, what role India is playing in this campaign?
And finally, if we are going to drop medicine there, do they know what kind
of medicine and how to use them?
RUMSFELD: (Chuckles.) Y'all have gotten in the habit of asking three questions
at once -- (laughter) -- and it would sure make life simpler if you didn't.
With respect to the medicine, as I indicated in my opening remarks, we are making
judgments and assessments as to needs, and then medicine will be provided according
to those needs, in methods notably different from the food availability.
With respect to the president of Pakistan and Pakistan, he has been very forthright
in characterizing the ways in which he is assisting, and he has been helpful.
And you're quite correct; he has made some adjustments in his senior leadership,
which is obviously for him to make. And we are appreciative of the assistance
that he's provided.
QUESTION: One of your senior officials today, who shall remain nameless, suggested
to me, as we were talking about the length of this campaign, that it might end
up looking something like what's been going on in Iraq, that the -- that a military
effort here could be a decade long and the idea is just keeping the al Qaeda
network on the run and unable to use Afghanistan. Do you think that's within
the realm of possibility? And could you also preview tonight's battle plan,
the way you have done for us the last two days?
RUMSFELD: That was a big improvement; you went from three to two. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: One for each of you. (Laughter.)
RUMSFELD: I see. (Laughing.) That's very good. (Laughter.)
I think not, with respect to the Iraq situation. There the task has been to
try to contain a vicious dictator who has invaded his neighbors, who has been
aggressive in attempting to develop weapons of mass destruction, who continues
to this day to threaten any number of countries on the periphery of Iraq. And
the task there, with the northern and southern efforts and the cooperation of
so many states in that region, is to contain his appetite. So I think that that
model is not quite right.
I think in this case, over time, we simply have to drain the swamp, and just
containing, given the fact that he has cells in 50 or -- the al Qaeda has cells
in 50 or 60 countries, would not be an appropriate analogy.
QUESTION: Battle --
RUMSFELD: And I'll let the other one, as you said --
MYERS: The other one would say that in terms of the battle plan that it'll be
similar to the other days in terms of level of effort, re-striking some of the
targets that weren't dealt with successfully and focusing on emerging targets.
QUESTION: Will the British -- the British have taken part since day one. Will they
take part in the strikes, which began tonight?
MYERS: We'll tell you tomorrow.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary. Are you changing or planning to change the rotation of the
10th Mountain Division in Kosovo in preparation for something else?
RUMSFELD: We don't announce prospective deployments of forces.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, or actually for General Myers, you talk like you haven't ruled
our close-air support for the opposition forces in Afghanistan. Isn't that very
hard to do with bombers coming from, you know, the long distance or carrier
strike aircraft that will be at kind of the end of their string when they get
there? Don't you need land bases in the area to do close-air support?
MYERS: Well, on just the technical merits of that, we have the capability to
operate at great distances. That would not -- that would not -- we would not
be prohibited technically from doing that.
QUESTION: But that's not the preferred way to do it. You've got to be -- close-air
support, you want to be quick reaction, and you can't do quick reaction from
700 miles or a thousand miles.
MYERS: Unless you were in a CAP [combat air patrol], waiting for hours. And
that is technically feasible. So just from a technical standpoint, that's not
RUMSFELD: I would add that nothing is preferred in Afghanistan. It is all complex.
It is all difficult. But what it is we're set about to do is all doable.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you spoke yesterday about countries that support or shelter
or harbor terrorists. Do you -- could you tell us what countries do you recognize
as harboring terrorists in the Middle East? And do you have any plans for military
RUMSFELD: The short answer to your question is that there are several lists
that list terrorist nations and nations that harbor terrorists. And second,
we don't announce what are plans are for the future.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary.
QUESTION: You mentioned yesterday that ground forces were targeted, but you didn't
break out the BDA [battle damage assessment] to indicate what success you might
have had in that respect. Is there anything either of you can say to that?
MYERS: We did target some barracks, and we are evaluating that bomb damage assessment
In terms of other bomb damage assessment for that kind of target, very difficult
to do from a long way away.
QUESTION: No initial findings on that barracks?
MYERS: We'll get back to you tomorrow.
QUESTION: BDA on armor? General, BDA on armor?
QUESTION: You made quite an adamant statement on change of regime here today. You said
that you were encouraging opposition groups, you actually said you'd like to
see the Taliban heaved out. So, having made that adamant change of regime statement
RUMSFELD: I consider that an understatement. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Oh. Elaborate.
QUESTION: Well, I would ask you to elaborate, but I'll also finish my part of the question,
which is, having made that very adamant change of regime statement, what are
the long-term implications for the U.S. military being in that region, and in
fact, the broader long-term implications for U.S. responsibility for the region,
should this heaving out occur? In fact, are we now setting up the conditions
for nation building in Afghanistan?
RUMSFELD: I think not. The United States of America, and certainly the United
States military, has no aspiration to occupy or maintain any real estate in
that region. We are simply doing exactly what the president indicated, trying
to root out terrorists.
Your question about the future is not an easy one to answer, because in my view,
that's going to be sorted out by Afghan people, not by the United States of
QUESTION: But if you -- if you assisted in heaving out the Taliban, does the U.S. not
have some responsibility for, not occupation, but ensuring the economic and
health and national security of Afghanistan afterwards, if you're the ones that
heaved out the Taliban?
RUMSFELD: First of all, it's the United States along with other nations that
are involved here. And because the United States and others that are deeply
concerned about terrorism and the enormous damage that can be done to thousands
of human beings by terrorists, because we have that concern and we go in and
root out terrorists, I don't think leaves us with a responsibility to try to
figure out what kind of government that country ought to have. It certainly
does suggest that we would have a humanitarian interest in the people of that
country. And -- but I know -- I don't know people who are smart enough from
other countries to tell other countries the kind of arrangements they ought
to have to govern themselves. One would hope and pray that they'd end up with
governments that would provide the best possible for the people of those countries.
But I don't know that we know what that formula is, and my guess is it's the
kind of thing that will ultimately be sorted out on the ground by Afghan people
in a way that's -- I would submit may very likely be considerably more satisfactory
to them than were it to be imposed by outsiders of different cultures, different
religions, different continents.
QUESTION: Can we go back to some specific targets again for a minute? What would you
-- how would you describe what's left of their communication system? I mean,
what kind of communications targets have been hit?
MYERS: Well again, without getting specific into the operation, not a lot is
left of their communication system -- their land-based communication system.
QUESTION: Can you confirm a television tower was hit?
MYERS: We'll tell -- we'll talk about that tomorrow. We'll look and see if we
can talk about that tomorrow.
RUMSFELD: We'll make this the last question.
QUESTION: I was just wondering if you have any evidence or any suspicion that al Qaeda
or the Taliban have tried to make chemical or biological weapons?
RUMSFELD: Well, without getting into evidence, there's -- terrorist networks
have had relationships with a handful of countries. Among those handful-plus
of countries are nations that have active chemical and biological programs.
Among those countries are nations that have tested the weaponization of chemical
and biological agents.
QUESTION: Is Iraq one of those nations?
RUMSFELD: Oh, there's no question. We have -- the world knows that Iraq used
chemicals on its own people, let alone on its neighbors, at a previous period.