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Published: Thursday, 10/11/2001

U.S. wages an `unfamiliar' war


COLUMBUS - The next step in Afghanistan is for U.S. reconnaissance personnel and special operations forces to call in strikes by low-flying Army helicopter gunships and warplanes, followed by ground forces to enter hideouts and “take down” terrorist camps in Afghanistan, retired Gen. Wesley Clark said yesterday.

“All the familiar parameters that emerged in the 1990s about military operations are unfamiliar,” said General Clark, who commanded all NATO forces in the Kosovo conflict. “We're not using decisive force. We don't have a defined exit strategy, and we don't have a time limit on the operation,” he said.

But the war against terrorism will avoid any “single line of operations” that could fail, General Clark said at a law-enforcement seminar hosted by state Attorney General Betty Montgomery.

For example, the United States and its allies will continue to help the Northern Alliance destabilize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, but will not rely on it to eliminate the terrorist network of Osama bin Laden, said General Clark, a CNN military analyst.

General Clark said overt and covert American actions against terrorists tied to the al-Qaeda network based in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia depend on the intelligence that the United States and its allies gather.

“If a government has the will but lacks the resources, then no doubt the United States and other members of the coalition will provide assistance. If the government doesn't have the will, as in the case of Afghanistan, the United States will take direct measures.”

The threat of terrorism in the United States will make local law-enforcement agencies more connected to national and international security groups, General Clark said.

“If we're going to win the battle against terrorism, we're going to have to succeed not only abroad; we're going to have to succeed at home. It's a defensive fight in military terms, but we also know that we're the target. The first line of defense is not our military, it's our public and our law enforcement,” he said.

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