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IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 1, 2001
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld released today the following statement:
Good afternoon. I have reflected on some of the questions posed at the last briefing: questions about the 'speed of progress' in the campaign-questions about the "patience" of the American people-if something does not happen immediately.
I have a sense that the public understands the following facts:
On September 11th terrorists attacked New York and Washington, DC, murdering thousands of innocent people -- Americans and people from dozens of countries and all races and religions -- in cold blood.
On October 7th, less than a month later, we had positioned coalition forces in the region, and we began military operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda targets throughout Afghanistan. Since that time -- roughly three weeks ago -- coalition forces have flown over 2,000 sorties, broadcast 300-plus hours of radio transmissions, delivered an amazing 1,030,000 humanitarian rations to starving Afghan people.
Today is November 1, and smoke -- at this very moment -- is still rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center.
With the ruins still smoldering and the smoke not yet cleared, it seems to me that Americans understand well that -- despite the urgency in the press questions -- we are still in the very, very early stages of this war. The ruins are still smoking!
Consider some historical perspective:
At my briefing when I announced the start of the air campaign on October 7th, I stated that our initial goals were:
That was 24 days ago -- three weeks and three days -- not three months or three years, but three weeks and three days. We have made measurable progress on each of these goals.
The attacks of September 11 were not days or weeks but years in the making. The terrorists were painstaking and deliberate, and it appears they may have spent years planning their activities.
There is no doubt in my mind but that the American people know that it's going to take more than 24 days.
I also stated that our task is much broader than simply defeating the Taliban or al-Qaeda -- it is to root out global terrorist networks, not just in Afghanistan, but wherever they are, to ensure that they cannot threaten the American people or our way of life.
This is a task that will take time to accomplish. Victory will require that every element of American influence and power be engaged.
Americans have seen tougher adversaries than this before-and they have had the staying power to defeat them. Underestimating the American people is a bad bet.
In the end, war is not about statistics, deadlines, short attention spans, or 24-hour news cycles. It is about will -- the projection of will, the clear, unambiguous determination of the President and the American people to see this through to certain victory.
In other American wars, enemy commanders have come to doubt the wisdom of taking on the strength and power of this nation and the resolve of her people. I expect that somewhere, in a cave in Afghanistan, there is a terrorist leader who is, at this moment, considering precisely the same thing.
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