Accessibility links

Pentagon Claims Arms Seizures in Afghanistan - 2002-05-14

American forces in Afghanistan have made major seizures of arms and ammunition in separate operations in the east and west of the country, according to U.S. military officials, who call the weapons finds near Herat in western Afghanistan and Gardez in the east among the biggest so far.

General Peter Pace, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the caches included nearly two million rounds of ammunition along with rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds and five tanks, and he explained what will happen to it. "The ammunition, depending on its condition, will either be destroyed in place or turned over to the Afghan national army for their training," he said.

That training, says General Pace, began Tuesday with the first 250 soldiers beginning a 10-week program emphasizing basic military skills.

General Pace also says a three-star Army general is being sent to Afghanistan to take over command of most U.S. forces there.

General Pace says the move will enable the current, more senior commander, four-star General Tommy Franks, to spend more time focusing on other countries in his area of responsibility - a region that spans the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

A key country in that region is Iraq, regarded by U.S. defense officials as a serious military threat.

However a Pentagon spokesman insists the command shift has nothing to do with Iraq.