U.S. campaign may add forces to hunt al-Qaida

Monday, December 10, 2001

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military campaign could involve more American forces and continue for a long time even though the Taliban are out of power and al-Qaida fighters are surrounded near one of their mountain hide-outs, U.S. officials said Sunday.

"We may send in some" more troops to Afghanistan, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said. "The most important thing for the American people to understand is our objectives remain very largely to be done in the future."

"Enemies that are half-defeated can be very dangerous and they can take a long time to clear out," he said.

U.S. forces would not occupy Afghanistan, but would hunt down top Taliban and al-Qaida leaders, continue humanitarian aid efforts and help support a post-Taliban government.

"We're not eager to have the United States come in and become an occupying power in Afghanistan. That's not our purpose," Vice President Dick Cheney said.

That goal, he said, could take "years of involvement" and would rely on aid agencies and perhaps U.N. peacekeepers.

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