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US Military Prepares for War Like No Other - 2001-09-17

U.S. military forces are preparing for a war on terrorism that President Bush says will be vastly different from past conflicts.

Pentagon officials are understandably reluctant to discuss the military options now under consideration for a war on terrorism. But President Bush hinted during a Pentagon visit Monday that U.S. tactics will be aimed at driving terrorists from their hiding places, and forcing them on the run.

He calls it a different kind of war against a different kind of enemy. "This is a different type of enemy than we're used to," he said. "It's an enemy that likes to hide and burrow in, and their network is extensive. There's no rules. It's barbaric behavior. They slit throats of women on airplanes to achieve an objective that is beyond comprehension. And they like to hit, and then they like to hide out. But we're going to smoke them out, and we're adjusting our thinking to the new type of enemy."

Mr. Bush again identified Osama bin Laden as a prime suspect in last week's attacks, in which suicide terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into New York's World Trade Center, as well as the Pentagon. He also warned Afghanistan's leaders they will be held accountable for providing Osama bin Laden with sanctuary.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has already said the key military units likely to see action against terrorist networks are the country's elite Special Operations forces from the Air Force, Army and Navy.

There are some 46,000 active duty and reserve special operations forces. Mr. Rumsfeld says that they are capable of dealing with unconventional threats. But he also suggests the number of these commando-like units may have to be increased. He says such antiseptic warfare tactics as using cruise missiles and planes dropping bombs will not work with terrorists.

And while both the president and defense officials acknowledge that there may be U.S. casualties in a war on terrorism, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said "this war is about our way of life and our way of life is worth losing lives for."