by Mark Scheinbaum
American Reporter Correspondent
Fort Benning, Ga.
Feruary 21, 2003
AMERICA'S SECRET WAR IN IRAQ IS UNDERWAY
FORT BENNING, Ga., Feb. 20, 2001 -- A high ranking U.S. Army commander confirmed Wednesday that the same U.S. special operation teams which orchestrated CIa-Northern Alliance coalition efforts in Afghanistan are now inside Iraq and actively paving the way for expanded U.S. operations. He indicated that it was a part of the war on terror which could last four to six years to complete.
"The same U.S. Army officer who coordinated helicopter missions, sometimes in pitch-black night skies through 16,000-foot mountain ranges, into northern Afghanistan, has been on the ground with special forces in Iraq, building the same types of coalitions, and peforming the same types of missions which defeated the Taliban," the Pentagon-based official told a gathering at Fort Benning attended by The American Reporter.
Recordings and photographs of the event were not permitted, but the visiting Army policy maker, said that the war against Al-Qaeda and terrorism will continue well beyond any Iraqi actions, "and the American people should prepare themselves for four to six years of commitment" to supporting the men and women of the armed forces of the United States.
While not directly mentioning the global anti-U.S. protests of the previous weekend, the official called U.S. actions and U.S. soldiers "representative of the humanity and compassion that is America, behaving with honor and duty because of an inner desire to preserve freedom." The source detailed the cooperation of U.S. Army advance teams with CIA operatives in Afghanistan, and said once again in Iraq the intelligence service along with the special operations units of the uniformed services would "do whatever it takes to adapt and adjust to a mission. If it means that a young Army Captain draws a picture, outlines a battle plan, and leads men 10 or 15 years his senior from the local population, so be it. If it means getting on horseback and riding with local rebel forces, that's what is done."
Summarizing the "war on terror," the Iraqi operation, and previous U.S. overseas operations, he indicated that U.S. forces are currently on duty in 120 countries. "For the first time--not in Somalia, or Haiti, or Bosnia, or Kosovo - U.S. Forces are fighting for the direct safety of the United States, and United States interests, and not simply to help another nation in need, as when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the last time around. When I talk to troops, there is an intensity, which demonstrates an understanding of direct relationships to the United States, and their homes."
Mark Scheinbaum is a former UPI newsman, and our weekly business columnist.