The Army in the War against Terror

Article excerpt

News Call

The U.S. Army continues to be engaged in the war against terror on many fronts-in Afghanistan, Cuba and the Philippines. U.S. forces have also been alerted to assist the Pakistani government to hunt for terrorists.

In Afghanistan, American soldiers, international forces and Afghan fighters continue to scour the mountains to keep al Qaeda from regrouping and to deny them support. U.S. forces dis-' covered another large cache of weapons and ammunition, estimated at eight tons, in southeastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border.

Even though Afghanistan's grand council met on June 11 and chose a new government, the cities and countryside continue to experience flareups of violence.

On July 1, U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunships, responding to what they believed was ground fire, hit Afghan civilians attending a wedding in Oruzgan Province in southern Afghanistan. The number of casualties is undetermined. The incident was under investigation as we went to press.

On June 18, two rockets were fired into the center of Kabul, exploding approximately one block away from the American Embassy compound. The next day U.S. special operations forces came under fire twice while patrolling villages in southeast Afghanistan. The first incident occurred near the city of Tarin Kowt, approximately 75 miles north of Kandahar. The soldiers returned fire, killing two of the people who were firing on them. The second incident occurred in the village of Shkin, where Special Forces units came under fire while driving in pickup trucks. The patrol returned fire and an AC-130 Spectre gunship added its fire power. No casualties were reported. On June 25, soldiers came under mortar fire in Kunar but suffered no casualties. Incidents of harassing fire against U.S. positions around the Khost airfeld have become weekly events.

On June 12, three service members were killed when the MC-130H combat talon they were flying in crashed three miles from take-off from Bande Sardeh Dam. Killed were Army SFC Peter P. Tycz II, 32, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean M. Corlew, 37, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Anissa A. Shero, 31. The cause of the crash is under investigation but witnesses say they saw no enemy ground fire. Seven other service members were injured in the crash.

In Pakistan, 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed in a four-hour gun battle with suspected members of al Qaeda in the village of Azam Warsak on June 27. The Pakistanis killed two men and captured another while about 35 of the suspected terrorists managed to escape. This was the first time Pakistani soldiers have been killed by hostile fire in the region since their forces moved to the Afghan border last year to capture retreating al Qaeda and Taliban elements. American air and ground forces in Afghanistan were put on alert but were not involved.

At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, two planes carrying suspected al Qaeda and Taliban combatants arrived within two days of each other on June 16 and 18. The first plane carried 34 prisoners and the second, 28, bringing the total number of detainees to 564.

In the Philippines, terrorist leader Abu Sabaya, born Aldam Tilao, was reported killed after a shoot-out with an elite Philippine navy commando unit while attempting to escape with six others on a boat off the island of Mindanao. Sabaya, the spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf, was reportedly shot as he tried to swim away and was seen to sink into the ocean by the commando who shot him. Air Force Brig. Gen. Donald Wurster, the commander of U.S. troops in the Balikatan exercise, said that U.S. forces are aiding in the search for Sabaya's body, but that he would bet a month's pay that Sabaya is dead.

To further aid the Philippine government in its hunt for terrorists, the Bush administration approved a plan to allow U.S. Special Forces advisors to join the Philippine forces patrolling the jungles for the Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group with ties to al Qaeda. …