Transcript: Interview with Vallely and McInerney

This partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, October 21, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

TONY SNOW, HOST: Now we're going to get a military briefing on the war on terror. Joining me in the Fox News map room are retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney and retired Army Major General Paul Vallely.  

Other guests and topics for October 21, 2001 included:
• Jim Angle: Bush in Shanghai to shore up support for anti-terrorist coalition
• Steve Harrigan: U.S. forces showing force over and around Kabul
• Interview: Senators Bill Frist and Bob Graham
• Interview: Secretary of State Colin Powell
Order the complete transcript

And, General Vallely, I want to begin with you.  Let's talk a little bit about what's happened in the last 24 hours on the field and how it all might fit into a general battle plan.  

What we're going to do is we're going to pull up our map of Afghanistan, laying out the major cities, and you can go to work on the telestrator and explain what's going on.  

MAJ. GEN. PAUL VALLELY, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, Tony, to wrap up the last 14 days, last several weeks, we've talked about how busy it is over there.  

And here's what's happened.  We've had air operations.  We've had psychological operations.  We've had humanitarian aid.  We've had ground forces go in.  And then we've had a lot of things happening in the political diplomacy area.  So, it's been very busy but at the same time very frustrating.  

SNOW:  It's frustrating why?

VALLELY:  Well, frustrating because what we're trying to do here is forge up the alliance members.  So you have groups down here, the Pashtuns in the south.  You've got different groups up here in the north making up the Northern Alliance.  Now, to try to bring them all together so they can go in and take the symbolic capital of Kabul has been the frustrating part of this whole thing.  

SNOW:  All right, you mentioned the Pashtuns.  Let's take a look at an ethnic map of Afghanistan.  A lot of people don't understand how ethnically diverse the country is and how that complicates not only diplomatic but military efforts.  

Here we see up in the northern area Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara areas.  That is the Northern Alliance area basically, through here.  

VALLELY:  That's correct.

SNOW:  But, as you see from this big circle, the Pashtun are by far the largest tribe, and that's the tribe from which the Taliban comes.  

VALLELY:  That's correct.  

SNOW:  If you don't have Pashtun, you don't have long-term peace.

VALLELY:  You don't have a coalition of the ethnic groups.  So that's why it's so important to concentrate efforts down there.  

And as I understand it, some of our special forces probably were in there doing what we call internal defense, trying to bring those people together, trying to get them to move over from the Taliban and forge an alliance with the people up here.  

So, the other interesting thing up here in Jalalabad are the more moderate Pashtuns.  They don't like the Taliban necessarily.  So they're a little different than the mixture down here in the Kandahar area.  

SNOW:  What you're trying to do is to come up with a coalition even of Pashtun.  If you get more than 50 percent, you're feeling pretty happy.  

VALLELY:  Well, you are.  But, you know, what are the alternatives?

SNOW:  Absolutely.  

OK, now, the next thing that's going on is America is trying to work it's diplomacy.  A lot of people have the impression, when you say special operations, there's a bunch of Rambos going in with guns blazing.  That's not how it works.

VALLELY:  No, very well planned out, very well-trained special forces, SEALS, Rangers, psychological operations people.

SNOW:  Now, when you say psychological operations, I'm cutting you off here because that's an important part to explain.  Talk about what psychological operations are into doing.

VALLELY:  Well, first of all, as I said, the busy battlefield, we've been doing strategic and tactical psychological operations.  And what that means is, basically, we have done leaflet drops with messages to the Afghan people throughout the country.  One of them was, come over, these are what the bad guys have been doing, giving that message.  

Also, giving them the radio frequency because, you know, they're dependent on radios over there.  They don't have TV.  

SNOW:  So we tell our side.  All right, now let me bring in General McInerney.

VALLELY:  Plus, yes, the radio broadcast.  That's a real important thing on that frequency.

SNOW:  So they get to hear our side.  

Let's bring in General McInerney, now, to talk a little bit about the air campaign.  We know that there were strikes in the general area of Bagram.  That is really one of the battle fronts.  Talk a little bit about what Steve Harrigan just reported, what it all means.  

LT. GEN. TOM MCINERNEY, FOX NEWS MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, as Steve reported, Tony, we now have airstrikes on just south of the Bagram airfield.  And that's important because that will allow the Northern Alliance at the appropriate time to head down toward Kabul.  

Now, there are 8,000 Taliban there.  There's 20 percent of the Taliban force in this area.

MCINERNEY:  And if Steve really wants to see air power, we ought to see B-52s come in there and decimate them.  

Now, I'm not saying that they're not getting intensive and very focused air power.  

SNOW:  Why do you think B-52s have not done that so far?

MCINERNEY:  I think that they still have a major problem.  We've got the air campaign; it's well out in front of the ground campaign. And that's because, as you all were talking about, the ethnicity problem, the spear's of influence, Pakistan's influence, they don't want the Northern Alliance...  

SNOW:  So for political reasons, we are not pushing the war as hard as we might.  

MCINERNEY:  That's correct, and it's important that we decouple the two now.  We, I don't think, have any choice.  We've really got to move out in the military, both air and ground, and the air is out ahead of the ground.  And, of course, in the political one, that's way behind.  We're not going to solve that right away.  

SNOW:  The political problem, those always take quite awhile to resolve.  The real question for a lot of people is, if we do not resolve this before another month passes, that is before the onset of winter and, of course, the beginning of Ramadan, what does that mean for our military strategy?

MCINERNEY:  Well, it's just delaying it.  We are using about 20 percent or 10 percent of our real power on effectiveness.  In other words, we're not striking Taliban, we're striking a lot of facilities and their infrastructures, they say that.  We need to strike Taliban, and we need to do it quickly.  

SNOW:  Let me bring in General Vallely.  We're going to have a "general" discussion here -- bad pun.  

The mission is, at least originally, to take out Al Qaeda, the Taliban presumably and the terror network.  How do we do that, what do we do next?

VALLELY:  Well, we have to attack, as General McInerney says, the troops and the structure of the ground forces.  That's how this thing will work, because then we can measure success on how well we take out the Taliban, the Al Qaeda network and track down all these terrorists. And that has to be done.  And that's how we measure success in this operation.  

SNOW:  General McInerney?

MCINERNEY:  Well, I would isolate the north right across here.  I would seize within the next two days Mazar-e Sharif, break out of Bagram, start heading toward Kabul and then start working the southern area later.  We've got special ops in there, but I'd let them know that Afghans are retaking Afghanistan.  

SNOW:  In the final point here, Mazar-e Sharif and Bagram are both sites of former Soviet air bases, and they're important strategically for precisely that reason.  

VALLELY:  That's right.

MCINERNEY:  Exactly.  

VALLELY:  Forward basing.

SNOW:  All right.  Generals Paul Vallely and Thomas McInerney, thanks for joining us.  

MCINERNEY:  Thank you, Tony.  

VALLELY:  Thank you, Tony.


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