Ground Troops Set to Move into Action Afghanistan ; Blair Warns That Military Campaign Is about to Enter `Most Testing Time'
Sengupta, Kim, The Independent (London, England)
US AND British troops are getting ready to move into action in Afghanistan after the clearest signals so far from Tony Blair and George Bush that a ground war was not only inevitable but imminent.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister warned that the land campaign was about to enter the "most testing time". It followed President Bush's statement that the air strikes were to clear the way for "friendly ground troops" to enter the capital Kabul.
It also emerged last night that American special forces are already on board the aircraft carrier, USS Kitty Hawk, in the Gulf, whose main role is to provide a platform for land operations in Afghanistan. The carrier has been stripped of its complement of fixed wing aircraft to carry marines and special forces and the helicopters needed to take them into Afghanistan. British special forces have been in training in the Indian Ocean base of Diego Garcia where they will be joined by Australian SAS in the next 48 hours.
The anthrax outbreak in the United States, meanwhile, raised its profile further as it was revealed that an assistant to the best known US anchor, Dan Rather, had been infected by the potentially lethal bacteria, bringing the total of people testing positive to six. Mr Rather said he and other staff at CBS were adamant they would not be cowed by the latest incident. He said: "Our biggest problem is not anthrax it is fear. Those who are most frightened are in the most danger."
The first confirmed case outside the US came in Kenya, where powder in a letter posted from Atlanta, Georgia, to an expatriate businessman from America tested positive.
In Downing Street,a sombre Mr Blair told Arab journalists: "This is a testing time. In fact, I believe that the next few weeks will be the most testing time but we are on track to achieve the goals we set out. I don't think we have ever contemplated this being done by air power alone. We have always said that there would be different phases to this operation. What is unfolding is exactly what has been planned."
In the initial stages, ground action will consist mainly of commando operations with special forces attacking specific designated targets, although this is expected to expand in the near future. The scale of the unfolding humanitarian disaster also means large numbers of …
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Publication information: Article title: Ground Troops Set to Move into Action Afghanistan ; Blair Warns That Military Campaign Is about to Enter `Most Testing Time'. Contributors: Sengupta, Kim - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 19, 2001. Page number: 1. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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