The Role of Special Operations Forces

This partial transcript of War on Terror, October 22, 2001, was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

SCOTT: Fox News has just learned that Great Britain is preparing to send 1,000 of its soldiers to join Special Operations groups working in Afghanistan.

Joining us now from Washington, Kelly McCann, former Marine Corps Special Operations Special Missions officer and the current CEO of Crucible Security Specialists. And here in our studio, Nancy Soderberg, former adviser to the National Security Council under President Clinton. Welcome to both of you.

Kelly, this report that Britain is getting ready to send what probably I would guess are its SAS soldiers into Afghanistan — that coupled with the Saturday morning raids that U.S. ground forces took part in — it seems that we've really turned a corner in this war, haven't we?

KELLY MCCANN, FORMER SPECIAL OPS OFFICER: We have, but we're still going to define the battle space our way. And remember that our plan is to make them respond to us. So even though we may be staging some troops in nearby Uzbekistan and probably some other locations, we're not going to commit them stupidly, and we're going to be poised and ready to use them at hinge points that present themselves to us from the Taliban.

SCOTT: So from your observation, has this thing been conducted smartly so far? I mean, are you seeing obvious mistakes in the way the U.S. is going about this?

MCCANN: No. I think, collectively, the highest praise for the government. We've got the right men in the right positions. They've been able to use men effectively, exactly as appropriate. I know that you had talked about cave fighting and all of that kind of thing. And you know, we're poised to do that, too. So I mean, I don't think you're going to see any missteps by the administration at all.

SCOTT: Nancy, there are these reports that the U.S. is going after the front-line Taliban troops that are facing off with the Northern Alliance. It looks like if they pound those troops hard enough, the Northern Alliance is going to sweep down into Kabul. That could raise a fuss with Pakistan. Should we be worrying about all that now, or should we just go get the Taliban, wherever they are?

NANCY SODERBERG, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL ADVISER: Well, this is a two-pronged operation. First and foremost, it's to catch bin Laden and his associates and bring them to justice. The other is to try and punch a hole in the Taliban defenses so that they cannot interfere with those operations and can no longer provide safe haven to those who are promoting terrorism there. Absolutely, it's a problem of what is next. Nobody really has a good answer to that.

SCOTT: Well, but does the military have to think about that answer, or should the military do what the military is supposed to do, and that is go out and win a war?

SODERBERG: Oh, the military is there to go win a war. It's up to the politicians to figure out what's next. No one really is pushing the Northern Alliance into Kabul because they don't know what to do when they get there. It's up to the international community, primarily the Bush administration, to figure out what happens once you get rid of the Taliban. Who's next in Afghanistan? And that's something many heads are pondering about at the moment.

SCOTT: Kelly, what happens if the Taliban does capture an American soldier? They claim that they have already. There are no indications — in fact, the Defense Department says it's bunk. But if they do and we get another Somalia-type scene of dead soldiers being dragged through the streets, what then?

MCCANN: Well, Jon, I mean, it's a good question, and that's going to go to the endurance of the American people. Undoubtedly, you would suspect correctly, so that following the Geneva convention is probably not going to be the norm there.

But I would caution Mullah Mohammad Omar's advisers to read their history because, as you remember, in World War II, for instance, when people dug into caves and things, we landed in one island campaign in Iwo Jima, for instance, where there were 22,000 Japanese. When we left, there were 1,000 left alive. And we suffocated and burned alive those that dug in.

So I mean, the resolve of the American people should not be understated. And we were a little bit dusty and a little bit sleepy. Now we're fully awake. And I don't think that anybody can afford to doubt that we will do exactly what's necessary to do, especially if they start doing grievous injury to prisoners of war, what amounts to prisoners of war. We won't stand for that. But that but I would also caution, and all the military people involved are well aware that treatment at the hand of this adversary would not meet the code of the Geneva convention.

SCOTT: Nancy, let's ask about the post-Taliban government. I mean, Afghanistan hasn't been able to form a functioning government in more than 30 years now. Why do we think that even with U.S. help, they'll be able to get one post-Taliban?

SODERBERG: It's a very difficult question, and no one has the answer, but no one has a better answer, either. The idea is that you'd have the traditional council of the tribal rulers, come together probably under the auspices of the former king, who was disposed three decades ago, but to have a sort of unifying event. This is all, of course, post-Taliban, either by force or by agreement. They would either be part of the negotiations or be sidelined by military operations, which is not a minor action, either. But that there would be a national unity government. The U.N. would then come in and administer, and then some form of a peacekeeping force would come in and keep the peace. And none of that is easy, and no one has really thought through the very difficult details of that.

SCOTT: Kelly, what about Ramadan coming up, November 17th? It's the Muslim holy month. Some people say, "Hey, you can't be bombing Afghanistan regularly," or at least the level of intensity we've been doing it so far, during Ramadan. What do you think?

MCCANN: Well, there's a couple of things. A historical lesson is between Iran and Iraq and, of course, they did observe all holidays and did take breaks in combat. And I think that the government is weighing right now possible alienation of other portions of the Muslim world if we were to continue that.

And I don't think that there's any doubt we'll take targets of opportunity that present themselves during that period. And let's not forget that this adversary has used mosques to their benefit in times when there were about to be bombing raids, and they heard them or got any kind of early warning, they did seek refuge in mosques, understanding that the United States of America is very reluctant to bomb any kind of religious establishment like that.

So it's a difficult question, and one I'm sure that will go towards cultural issues, and we'll have to weigh what's going to be the bigger objective, a particular target or a possible alienation issue.

SCOTT: Kelly McCann and Nancy Soderberg, thank you.

MCCANN: Thanks, Jon.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2001 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2001 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.