Asst. Sec. of Defense (Public Affairs) Rear Adm. Craig Quigley
Interview on the Mitch Albom Radio Show
September 20, 2001
QUESTION: -- Mitch Albom Show by Rear Admiral Craig Quigley from the U.S. Navy,
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, and we're happy to
have him here on the Mitch Albom show.
Do I say Rear Admiral or just Admiral or Craig?
QUIGLEY: Craig is just fine.
QUESTION: All right, Craig it is.
Well Craig, I think as our ships head out there and our troops head out there,
it's a good show of might, but a lot of people are saying all right, when they
get wherever it is they're getting, then what?
QUIGLEY: Mitch, this is going to be a very different war than any that America
has ever fought in her history. You are not going against conventional armies
and navies and air forces here. You're going against terrorists that live and
fight in the shadows. And military activity will certainly be a part of this,
but it's not enough. It needs to also have elements of financial and diplomatic
and economic as well as the going after organizations and even nations that
provide support for these terrorist networks around the world.
QUESTION: Let's take this down to the ground level, all right? If we put people
on the ground in Afghanistan my suspicion, and please correct me if I'm wrong
because I'm certainly no military expert, but my suspicion is one of the first
things they have to do is get the Afghanistan people who are there on the ground
with them to cooperate with them, to give them some information, to have someone
who speaks the language who can say you know, look, here's what we're here to
do. We're looking for bin Laden. We're looking for what kind of information
he has. Maybe he even has money with him or something that you try to get them
on. It's not enough to just sort of land on the ground and just start advancing
and taking territory. We're not in this to take territory. We're in this to
take prisoners. Am I off base in thinking that?
QUIGLEY: No, Mitch, you've really got it very right.
Without getting into the specifics of any planning that we're undertaking right
now, this is more than just one person, it's more than just one network. This
is a network of networks of terrorists and the individuals and organizations
that support them. It will require a long term, sustained effort.
One thing we're very heartened by is the variety of support that we're receiving
from nations around the world. The support varies because nations' capabilities
vary. But this is one thing that all nations can agree on is that terrorism
is just a scourge on the earth.
QUESTION: Is it your opinion that Osama bin Laden is actually still within the
boundaries of Afghanistan?
QUIGLEY: Well one of the areas that we're asking a wide variety of nations for
their help is in the intelligence support area. Different people are helpful
in regards to intelligence information to different nations for different reasons
and we certainly do not have a monopoly on all the good knowledge in that regard.
So that is something that we're trying to find out -- again, not just about
bin Laden, but about this network of terrorism around the world.
QUESTION: If we capture or kill a lieutenant in this network, so to speak --
I'm using the word lieutenant just as a noun -- someone whose name is not as
famous as Osama bin Laden, whose face is not as, but we believe is someone affected.
Will that information be given to the American public? Will it be announced
that today we captured or killed this person who was believed to have this thing?
Are we going to even know about that?
QUIGLEY: I guess the answer to your question is sometimes. The activities that
will take place around the world -- we're going to be dealing with some rather
unsavory characters and some unsavory nations with whom we have very little
else in common perhaps. But in the common goal of fighting terrorism, on that
we can agree, and some of this stuff will be very public, very readily understood
by one and all, and some things we're not going to be able to talk about, perhaps
QUESTION: I would think the part of it that has to be public, in order to keep
the resolve up here on the home front, in order to keep people believing behind,
not getting fatigued by it, whatever, we have to have some kind of feeling of
success if we're having success. So the government's going to have to balance
that need for secrecy with the need for the American public to say good, we're
making progress, let's keep funding it, let's keep supporting it, let's keep
believing and supporting our politicians and our President. So some amount of
information, particularly if it's what we would call positive news, although
I don't think there is such a thing as positive news in war, just relatively
positive news. I think we're going to need some of that, don't you?
QUIGLEY: I think it's very important that the American people understand what
we're about to undertake here and be kept apprised of its progress over the
months and years to come. It's very, very fundamental, I believe, to what they
expect of their government, and whether that's military or intelligence or financial,
they deserve that and we will provide as best we can.
QUESTION: The terrain in those regions -- Afghanistan and going through Pakistan.
What are our armed forces people going to be facing there?
QUIGLEY: Well again, Mitch, I'm sorry I can't be very helpful about what it
is we're contemplating, but I will say that we have deployed military forces,
have begun that process outside of the United States, and beyond that I hope
you understand that it would not be helpful, it would actually be harmful to
the lives of real people if we were too forthcoming with our plans.
QUESTION: I guess I'm just sort of asking about geography. We knew Desert Storm,
for example was a lot of flat, hot land that if we did go on the ground there
that would be an issue, exposure would be an issue. If we did go on the ground
in Afghanistan, everything I see looks very mountainous. It looks like difficult
terrain to cover easily by foot. Is that some of the obstacles we're facing
there? If we did go on the ground there?
QUIGLEY: Yeah, very true. Again, that's just another example of something that
will make this effort against terrorism very different than anything that Americans
are used to.
If you try to draw analogies to Desert Storm, to the Gulf War, even to Kosovo
just a couple of years ago, the analogies are very few. That effort in Desert
Storm against Saddam Hussein was against his conventional military operation
and you had months of buildup of forces in that region. It's no surprise that
coalition nations were ultimately going to take action against Saddam. And two
years ago in Kosovo with a concerted air campaign of dozens of days, very visible,
very apparent to all.
This will be a long term, sustained effort of fighting an enemy that operates
in the shadows and it will be sometimes visible and sometimes not.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about those shadows, something that has occurred to
me as a definite lay civilian of how this works.
I have these pictures, and please correct me if I'm wrong, of an Osama bin Laden
or some of his people, the people who are protecting him, hiding underground,
literally hiding where if you took a picture you would see nothing.
If that is indeed the case, but we have intelligence that he's in that region
somewhere, and we were to fly in and drop bombs or whatever, is it possible
to withstand an air attack or cruise missiles or whatever? Can you get far enough
underground that if you just stay there hidden for months on end, that unless
people know where you're at you can survive an attack, even if it is of U.S.
QUIGLEY: Mitch, if you go underground with a target it does make it much more
difficult for the planners to try to attack that target, but we are a very capable
military and we have a wide variety of capabilities and we've shown ourselves
over the years to be pretty good at figuring out work-arounds.
QUESTION: I know this is very sensitive stuff and we'll wrap up here, but any
concern about chemical weapons or biological weapons that might be used in some
kind of retaliation against our soldiers? I know that some people have reported
to us that some of the satellite pictures have shown in Afghanistan, for example,
areas where animals were tethered to cords and were dead, making them think
that perhaps they had been experimenting with it. Obviously you've got to be
concerned about that for our military, let alone our civilian population back
QUIGLEY: Yeah. Always a concern, of course, Mitch. It's one of the weapons of
terror, again, terror organizations have professed an enthusiasm to use around
We've got a couple of ways to counter that. Probably the best of them is again,
a very robust intelligence capability, working with our friends and allies around
the globe to try to glean that one little bit of information that would make
a difference and allow us to get a leg up on the terrorist organizations themselves.
But our troops in the field do have a self-defense, a self-protection capability
and they're very well trained in that regard.
QUESTION: Last question. Do we have enough men for this right now? Do we need
more people signing up or enlisting?
QUIGLEY: We have been very heartened in the last ten days or so since the attack
on America to see a spike in the number of young people that are inquiring about
the military among our recruiters around the nation. We do have enough. They
are very well trained. But I'm very heartened in the sense just being an American
to see the young people that have expressed an interest in wanting to serve
in some way.
QUESTION: You're very kind with your time. I know you've got a lot of things
going on. Thanks for spending some time with us.