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I'm a chauvinist leprechaun
Oct 30, 2000
Notre Dame, IN, 46556
D&mn.. These guys are sweet and amazing, .. from the Washington Times

"U.S. commandos inside Afghanistan have been given historic autonomy to plan and execute attacks when needed, resulting in "hundreds" of deaths of enemy soldiers, military officials say. One official described the special-operations forces' (SOF) rules of engagement as an "unrestricted hunting license" for Taliban militia and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist army now in disarray.
Special-operations troops the past two weeks have conducted their first sustained ground combat in Afghanistan. Sources say small teams of Delta Force soldiers, and other commando units, have ambushed the enemy and killed them in small batches.
"From the reports I've seen, they have killed in the hundreds," a senior administration official said. "There have been no deaths on our side."
This official, and others, said in interviews they credit the success to a premium placed on special-operations training the past 20 years. They also praise the freedom granted the units by Gen. Tommy Franks.
Gen. Franks, who as head of U.S. Central Command is directing the war in Afghanistan, is part of the "conventional" Army, and thus suspect in the eyes of hardened covert warriors. But some in the community are applauding the general's willingness to give SOF their loosest rein since the Vietnam War. Then, Army Green Berets infiltrated enemy territory and attacked at will.
Commandos are working in small teams at night in southern Afghanistan, attacking Taliban and al Qaeda soldiers around their stronghold of Kandahar. U.S. commandos can conduct reconnaissance, identify the enemy and plan missions to attack without getting approval from Central Command, officials said.
"You've got to give these guys freedom to plan direct action because the intelligence is so fragile," an administration official said. "In conventional warfare, you can rely on older intelligence of enemy positions because the enemy is not as mobile. In direct action, they're going after people. They have to do their own intelligence and act on it right away. You have to give these guys some slack."
In some cases, soldiers have used sniper fire, taking advantage of stealth and superior night-sight equipment. In other encounters, soldiers used Barret 50-caliber weapons, a heavy sniper rifle that can take out an armored vehicle, or a person, at 1,500 yards.
The administration official said now that hundreds of SOF soldiers are behind enemy lines they must act quickly or lose their prey. "It's only when you operate in country that information becomes minutes old," the official said.
Personnel in the special-operations community say Afghanistan has provided a playing field for SOF specialists to ply two classic trades at once: unconventional warfare and direct action.
In unconventional warfare, Army Special Forces, or Green Berets, have worked with the Northern Alliance and other opposition groups. The U.S. soldiers, trained in indigenous customs and language, give tactical advice, supply arms and bond with commanders who will one day run the country.
In "direct action" carried out by Delta Force and other SOF units, commandos find targets for fighter jets to strike, blow up some targets themselves and conduct hit-and-run raids.
"They're not leaving a footprint," said the administration official. "When these guys do sleep, they sleep on the ground. They don't have a fixed base camp."
Delta Force is under the control of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), located at Pope Air Force Base, which borders Fort Bragg, N.C., home to Army Special Operations Command. JSOC not only oversees the super-secret Delta anti-terrorism unit, but also the Navy's Seal Team Six. "There are elements of JSOC we don't talk about," an Army officer said.
Under the command of Army Maj. Gen. Del Dailey, JSOC units train in total secrecy. Few outside the units know who they are or what they do. Gen. Dailey, an ex-member of the 800-strong Delta unit, personally briefed President Bush on their missions in Afghanistan before the war began.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Pope and Fort Bragg this week to fire up troops on whose shoulders much of the war's fate now rests. Backed by air power, they must not only kill terrorists, but also help catch, or kill, the two primary al Qaeda leaders: bin Laden and his top aide Ayman al Zawahiri.
While at Fort Bragg, Mr. Rumsfeld credited SOF with turning the war in Afghanistan in the United States' favor.
In the first weeks after the air campaign began Oct. 7, opposition forces made little headway. But once U.S. warriors entered the country in significant numbers and began finding crucial command and troop targets, the Taliban began its retreat.
"The air war enabled the ground war to succeed," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "And it turned when we had Special Forces down there to help with the targeting. And God bless them for doing it."
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