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I've started reading a few articles on what the US's military options are regarding Bin Laden. A lot of people are thinking that this is going to be another smart missile war; that we're going to go over there with bombers and missiles and "glass" the place. Problem is that's already been done. Bin Laden and his thugs are holed up in caves in the mountains. This is going to require massive ground troops and will result in a lot of Americans coming back in body bags. I realize we've already lost 5000 of our own and other's citizens in NYC, DC, and PA, but do you think Americans really have the belly for what this is gonna take?
Here's a summary of options from msnbc:
The administration then has a number of available military options, all of them problematic:
A cruise-missile strike. Such an operation would be along the lines of Bill Clinton?s swift but ineffective attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan in the wake of the 1998 embassy bombings. The argument for: it would cost the fewest American lives. Con: it smacks of Clintonism. Cruise missiles have warheads too small to penetrate Afghan rock and bunkers. Bush administration officials insist the president has ruled out what one called ?demonstration strikes? like this. ?That gets you the news coverage but doesn?t solve the problem,? one U.S. official says. ?And he?s not interested in that.?
Airstrikes, with either Navy planes based on carriers in the Arabian Sea or B-52s and B-2s based in the continental United States. The latter might be the favored option, since carrier strikes would take several nights and lose the element of surprise. Pro: the combination of precision and heavyweight explosives. JDAMs, the bombs that guide themselves to designated geographical coordinates through GPS signals, could take out clusters of buildings and minimize innocent casualties. Con: bin Laden doesn?t depend on sophisticated military installations, so the real impact on his operations would be minimal. And he would likely escape. If the goal is to coerce the Taliban into handing him over, the prospects are just as bleak. Afghanistan?s shattered rural economy has almost no targets vulnerable to airstrikes, which would mainly make a lot of rubble jump.
Ground invasion with air support. Pro: offers the best chance of killing the largest number of people in the camps. Con: would require thousands of American troops to cover the main bin Laden camps. Inserting, supplying and extracting those troops from the mountains of Afghanistan would be a nightmarish operation, almost certainly requiring a U.S. base inside the border. The risk is that scattered American units would find themselves fighting multiple mini-Mogadishus. And the Afghans still have the Stinger SAMs that were death to Soviet helicopters. The Marines ordered up the controversial V-22 Osprey for just this kind of operation. Unfortunately, it?s not in service yet.
Covert operations. Pro: a swift strike by U.S. Army Special Forces probably offers the best chance of capturing bin Laden?and, probably more important, seizing computer disks that would lay bare the operations of his networks and their financing. Con: it would be close to a suicide mission. The secret insertion of forces would be hard. Extraction from the Afghan wilderness after a gun battle would be next to impossible. It also demands continued intelligence in real time about bin Laden?s whereabouts?which even the Pakistanis, now cooperating with the Americans, don?t have.
Whether the objective is to get bin Laden or to coerce the Taliban into handing him over, administration officials do not believe the military options are particularly attractive. ?There?s a great deal that we?re improvising here as we go,? says Wolfowitz. Powell, who only weeks ago was seen as a marginal figure in the administration, is now a key player on both the diplomatic and military fronts. The argument of the former Joint Chiefs chairman, which is largely accepted by Bush?s team, is that just killing foot soldiers in the camps?which could be done by air?isn?t enough. And any more ambitious operation involving ground troops would be high risk with little return. Yes, the Sept. 11 horror has ?raised the propensity? for risk among politicians and commanders, as former Special Forces commander Gen. Wayne Downing says. Americans will be willing to see more U.S. soldiers die in an attack. Bush, however, is already encountering some resistance to any ground option on Capitol Hill. ?I?m not ready to be supporting the Marines going into Afghanistan,? Sen. Pat Roberts, a member of the Armed Services committee, told NEWSWEEK.
Edited by zetek on 09/16/01 07:55 PM.
Post deleted by Moe Howard [Re: zetek] #396059 - 09/16/01 07:48 PM (17 years, 7 months ago)
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