September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Statement of the Secretary of Defense; October 7, 2001




Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld released today the following statement:

"Good afternoon. We have said since September 11 that the campaign against terrorism will be broad, sustained, and that we will use every element of American influence.

Today, the president has turned to direct, overt military force to complement the economic, humanitarian, financial, and diplomatic activity already well underway.

"The effect we hope to achieve through the raids, which, together with our coalition partners, we have initiated today, is to create conditions for sustained anti-terrorist and humanitarian relief operations in Afghanistan. That requires that, among other things, we first remove the threat from air defenses and from Taliban aircraft.

"We also seek to raise the cost of doing business for foreign terrorists who have chosen Afghanistan from which to organize their activities, and for the oppressive Taliban regime that continues to tolerate the terrorist presence in those portions of Afghanistan they control.

"The current military operations are focused on achieving several outcomes. To:

"Make it clear to the Taliban leaders and their supporters that harboring terrorists is unacceptable and carries a price.

"Acquire intelligence to facilitate future operations against Al Qaida and the Taliban regimes who harbor the terrorists.

"Develop relationships with groups in Afghanistan that oppose the Taliban regime and the foreign terrorists they support.

"Make it increasingly difficult for the terrorists to use Afghanistan freely as a base of operations.

"Alter the military balance over time, by denying to the Taliban its offensive systems that hamper the progress of the various opposition forces.

"Provide humanitarian relief to Afghans suffering truly oppressive living conditions.

"I want to reiterate a point President Bush has made often and that he made again today. The United States has organized armed coalitions on several occasions since the Cold War for the purpose of denying hostile regimes the opportunity to oppress their own or other people.

"In Kuwait, Northern Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, the United States took action on behalf of Muslim populations against outside invaders or oppressive regimes. The same is true today. We stand with those Afghans who are being repressed by a regime that abuses the very people it purports to lead and harbors terrorists who have attacked and killed thousands of innocent people around the world-of all religions, races and nationalities.

"While our raids today focus on the Taliban and the foreign terrorists in Afghanistan, our aim remains much broader. Our objective is to defeat those who use terrorism, and those that house or support them.

"The world stands united in this effort. It is not about a religion, an individual terrorist, or a country. Our partners in this effort represent nations and peoples of all cultures, religions, and races.

"We share the belief that terrorism is a cancer on the human condition, and we intend to oppose it wherever it is.

"The operation today involved a variety of weapons systems, and it originated from a number of separate locations. We used land and sea based aircraft, surface ships and submarines, and employed a variety of weapons to achieve our objectives.

"As President Bush mentioned in his statement, dozens of countries contributed in specific ways to this mission, including transit and landing rights, basing opportunities, and intelligence support. In this mission, we are particularly grateful for the direct military involvement of forces from Great Britain.

"To achieve the outcomes we seek, it is important to go after air defense and Taliban aircraft. We need freedom to operate on the ground and in the air, and the targets selected, if successfully destroyed, should permit an increasing degree of freedom over time.

"We have also targeted command facilities for those forces we know support terrorist elements within Afghanistan, and critical terrorist sites.

"As President Bush has repeatedly emphasized, we will hold accountable any who help terrorists, as well as the terrorists themselves."

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