General - Enemy forces regrouping

Thursday, March 21, 2002

BAGRAM, Afghanistan -- The Operation Anaconda commander warned on Wednesday that al-Qaida fighters are an "adaptable enemy" already drawing on a fresh flow of cash to rebuild forces in eastern Paktia province. Just 40 miles to the east, U.S. and Afghan troops came under fire, and one American was wounded.

Intelligence data showed that well-outfitted fighters were moving to regroup, Maj. Gen. Frank Hagenbeck said two days after the largest U.S. offensive in the war. He predicted increased activity as the weather improves.

"I can tell you there are al-Qaida operatives in Paktia right now who are going to great lengths to try to regroup or regenerate," Hagenbeck said. "They are also spending a lot of money to regroup."

He said, "They are a very adaptable enemy."

Just 40 miles east of the main battlefield in Operation Anaconda, gunmen launched an attack on U.S. and Afghan troops with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, touching off a firefight Tuesday night near the town of Khost. One American soldier was wounded.

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