In a letter to House and Senate leaders today, President Bush stated that the US would deploy ground forces in connection with the war on terrorism. He added, in an interview after the letter was sent, “Whether or not we are going to put troops on the ground (in Afghanistan), I’m not going to tell you.”
British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon was somewhat more forthcoming. “As far as any ground operations are concerned, clearly we are preparing plans to allow us to look at that as an option,” he said on Tuesday.
It is believed that US Special Forces units were in Afghanistan within days of the September 11 attack on the United States, and that they were preceeded by elite British Special Air Service (SAS) troops. These deployments, if they happened, involved small numbers of troops and were primarily of an intelligence-gathering nature.
The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that the US had gained air superiority in Afghanistan, and would now be conducting raids on a 24-hour basis. A residential complex used by Mullah Mohammed Omar was destroyed, and Taliban armor concentrations were hit near the northern Afghan city of Mazur-i-Sharif.
Plans continued for the development of a new Afghan government. “President Pervez Musharraf asked me to convey a message to (former) king Zahir Shah to send his emissary to Pakistan as soon as possible,” Italian minister of state for foreign affairs Margherita Boniver told a news conference after a meeting with Pakistani President Musharraf in Islamabad.
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