U.S. warplanes have again hit Taleban and terrorist targets in Afghanistan for the 20th day. Military officials find themselves under increasing pressure to show demonstrable results from the air campaign. But the military is sticking to its long-term strategy.
Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem said U.S. forces attacked Taleban targets near Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kandahar Friday in the 20th day of the air campaign.
Admiral Stufflebeem said both carrier-based aircraft and Tomahawk cruise missiles were used in the attacks, which included strikes on caves and camps believed to harbor Taleban and terrorist forces.
The spokesman said he had no confirmation on the reported capture and execution by the Taleban of former Afghan resistance leader Abdul Haq. But he denied claims that U.S. forces had engaged in any attempt to rescue him.
He said U.S. officials are investigating reports that a Red Cross warehouse may have been hit by U.S. munitions.
Complaints have come from members of the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance that the United States should be doing more to help them in their campaign against Taleban forces. But Admiral Stufflebeem says the United States is not going to change its plans to suit the Northern Alliance.
"We are supporting the Northern Alliance. What they are doing is supportive of our effort," he said. "But it would be unfair to characterize that we have meshed necessarily what may be their plans with ours. We're sticking to our game plan, our strategy. Where it crosses with the Northern Alliance, that's a good thing. But we are not going to adapt our game plan to theirs necessarily, nor would we expect them to adapt theirs to ours."
Admiral Stufflebeem said he understands the frustration of those in the world especially potential allies - who believe the U.S.-led effort has not shown more concrete results. But, he says, the United States will not be rushed. Officials are satisfied, he says, with the overall prosecution of the campaign.
"We do not want to do anything that obviously would break down our support in the world to do this. And that may become a factor in how the campaign is prosecuted. But part of the campaign is also showing our resolve and showing our strength," Admiral Stufflebeem said. "We're in the right. The terrorists are in the wrong. And it's therefore important to do the right thing, and exercise our right of defending ourselves."
Admiral Stufflebeem also welcomed the announcement that Britain is sending commando forces to the region to assist the U.S. effort. But he said that does not necessarily indicate that any new phase of the war is about to begin.