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Transcript: The Military Situation

Following is a transcript from Fox News Sunday, November 4, 2001. 

TONY SNOW, HOST, FOX NEWS SUNDAY: So after 28 days of sustained bombing, where does America's war on terror stand? Here with their assessments, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas McInerney and retired Army Major General Paul Vallely. 

General McInerney, let's talk a little about strategy to date. The administration has described the operation as an attempt to tighten the noose on Usama bin Laden and the terror network. Given what we've seen in recent days, how does that work? 

And what we're going to do is we're going to go to our screenwriter technology here so we can take a look at the scene on the ground and in the air and you can tell us how the strategy's working so far. 

LT. GEN. THOMAS MCINERNEY, USAF RET.: OK, Tony. We're really talking about an attrition campaign. 

And let's kind of break this attrition campaign down into the certain regions. Let's put the priority, for instance, up north here at Mazar-i-Sharif. And the reason this is important, because it allows ground forces and relief surprise and humanitarian efforts to come through Uzbekistan, a very important area for us. And so that is kind of the top of their priority in this attrition campaign. 

Now, after that, then they're going to move down into the Bagram-Kabul area. Why is this important? You've seen the intensive B-52, B-1 bombing all last week that has been bringing results, because once we can get Bagram, those forces in front there at Bagram, they can start heading towards Kabul. 

SNOW: Now let's take a quick look. You've got Mazar-i-Sharif and Bagram here. You see a corridor forming from the North... 

MCINERNEY: Correct. 

SNOW: ...in through Uzbekistan toward Kabul, the capital. 

MCINERNEY: Correct. 

SNOW: And that's the strategy right now, and also to cut off supplies to the Taliban? 

MCINERNEY: Absolutely. And isolate these forces. Remember, these Taliban forces are not large fielded forces, they're, you know, maybe at the most 6,000 or 8,000 at the different locations, a total of somewhere between 40,000 or 50,000 throughout this huge country. 

So, we're isolating these forces. 

SNOW: Now, in addition, there have been some defections recently among Taliban forces. 

MCINERNEY: That's correct. 

SNOW: Explain where that happened and why it's important. 

MCINERNEY: Well, this happened out here between Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat. And it's a very significant — one of General Dostum's proteges took 1,315 of its Taliban fighters. 

SNOW: Now, General Dostum is one of the Northern Alliance commanders. 

MCINERNEY: That's correct, yes. And General Dostum is now — he's in the Bagram area. And so it's important because now you're starting to see this quilt — the puzzle is starting to fill in where there are defections starting, the area that controls the Northern Alliance is broadening. 

SNOW: And what we're going to do is we'll punch it up on the map here, and you can begin to see a growing area of concentration of Northern Alliance forces. 

MCINERNEY: Absolutely. 

SNOW: Describe very quickly the importance of Herat, the importance of Herat. 

MCINERNEY: Well, Herat is close to the Iranian border. It's also isolated out there by itself. It's got a major airfield which will enable us to again get in relief supplies, supply forces out there, and humanitarian effort. Each one of these has a road to humanitarian effort. 

SNOW: So once again, now we'll punch it all up, and here we can use our lights. And there you begin to see the emerging campaign. 

Let me bring in General Vallely now. 

We've talked about the air campaign and trying to cut off areas, but Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said this week we're trying to get a lot more ground forces in. 

And we're also getting cooperation from forces from a whole series of countries, which would include Pakistan, Turkey, Great Britain and so on. 

Go to our map now and talk to us about the insertion of ground forces, where you expect to see them inserted and what it all means. 

GEN. PAUL VALLELY, USA RET.: Well, Tony, in the Arabian Sea, we've got 2,200 Marines down there as part of that aircraft carrier group down there. So, they're very important to be able to use for raids and so on. That's what they're trained to do. 

But when we go up here and we look at the Northern Alliance and we look at the other parts of the Northern Alliance in this area, then these things have to happen: the resupply, the ammunition, the arms, uniforms — we've seen the Northern Alliance even in camouflage uniforms, haven't we, the last week? So that's good to see. So, they need to be armed and ready to go to take Kabul. 

SNOW: OK. One of the things we know, at this point, the Northern Alliance seems to be outnumbered in that region. What you're saying is we have to have better supplies for them. 

VALLELY: That's correct. 

SNOW: And we have to cut off the other guys. 

VALLELY: That's exactly right. 

And the other thing, with good news from Secretary Rumsfeld, that we're putting more of our special operating forces in. And that's good for the winter campaign as that rolls out here over the next few months for a number of different reasons. 

SNOW: Now, there's been also talk of trying to make some sort of inroads with the Pashtun tribes in the south, and specifically to try to make a move on Kandahar, which is the home of the Taliban. Talk about the role of special forces there. 

VALLELY: Well, the role of special forces, number one, I think we are assisting Kardez (ph), the Pashtun commander that's down there now trying to coalesce the Pashtuns. We knew Haq got killed last week. 

SNOW: Abdul Haq, who was a Pashtun leader who'd been... 

VALLELY: That's right. So, we have another intermediary there trying to bring the Pashtuns together. 

But the control of that area is very important because, as we've said, the caves probably up in this area here need to be isolated. We need to put a chokehold on them during the winter and hopefully freeze them out, use air power to crash and take the caves out, crush them and so on and so forth. So that's part of the strategy I see coming for the winter season. 

SNOW: Very quickly, you have contacts in the Pentagon. We've heard the story, Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker is alleging that in a raid on Kandahar, right there, on Mohammed Omar's compound, maybe a dozen American forces were injured. What are you hearing about that story? 

VALLELY: Well, there's no confirmation coming out to really back the article. We know they're in there. There was some engagement. We know there were some casualties. Pentagon says not a great amount, really minimal. We had an aircraft, as you remember, a helicopter probably was damaged during that. 

But there's no confirmation that it was excessive or that we couldn't get — the important thing is we got our people out, whatever it was. We got them out. They're safe and sound, ready to come back in and do the job again. 

SNOW: All right. Generals McInerney and Vallely, quick final question. Last week there was some concern that we weren't using sufficient force. What is your sense now? 

MCINERNEY: Well, I think that we're moving in that direction. We've got the new Global Hawk in, we've got the Joint-STARS in. So, these intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance forces are coming in strong. Paul talked about the special operating forces, more intense bombing. They're moving in the right direction. 

SNOW: So we can watch them morning, noon and night. 

MCINERNEY: Well, we can. The eyes and ears are out there now. We're going to be able to do this through the winter and bring the force to bear that we need to take out Al Qaeda and bin Laden. That's the key. That's the measure of success. 

SNOW: Generals Vallely and McInerney, thanks for joining us. 

Copyright © 2001 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. No portion of this transcription may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the express written authority of eMediaMillWorks, Inc.

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