The Pentagon says humanitarian relief measures are part of the planning now underway for U.S. anti-terrorist operations inside Afghanistan.
A senior Pentagon official says humanitarian measures are "a significant part" of the planning for Operation Enduring Freedom, the Bush administration's code name for military operations against terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden and his supporters in Afghanistan.
The official declines to offer details of the types of measures under consideration.
However air drops of food and other relief supplies are a likely option. The official indicates to VOA that any such deliveries are likely to be targeted at Afghans who have moved away from Taleban-controlled areas of the country.
The official says such humanitarian operations will underscore the Bush administration's message that its anti-terrorist mission is not aimed against the Afghan people.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeated that message in a television appearance early Tuesday.
In an interview, Mr. Rumsfeld noted that the United States is already the biggest food aid deliverer in Afghanistan, providing over $170 million worth of aid this year.
Defense officials note relief operations have been a central element of several key U.S. military missions in recent years, including Bosnia, Haiti, Kosovo, Somalia and Rwanda.
United Nations officials have voiced fear that as many as 1.5 million Afghans might flee into Pakistan and other neighboring countries if the United States launches military strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan.