Yahoo! News AP
Top Stories - AP U.S.
Pentagon: Strikes Could Be Coming
Tue Feb 19, 5:07 PM ET

By MATT KELLEY, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Pre-emptive strikes by the United States could be on the horizon as the United States fights terrorism, the Pentagon (news - web sites)'s No. 2 official said Tuesday.

"We've already lost enough Americans. We're not going to lose any more by hesitating," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told a group of defense contractors.

Wolfowitz did not offer any details of where or when such a strike could happen, and he did not answer questions during an appearance at a conference of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Pentagon officials have repeatedly said that no decision has been made on when or where the next U.S. action will be. Speculation in recent days has focused on Iraq, which President Bush (news - web sites) named as part of an "axis of evil" with North Korea (news - web sites) and Iran last month.

Wolfowitz is widely viewed as one of the strongest voices within the Bush administration in favor of military attacks aimed at toppling Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

Wolfowitz said he was worried that Americans were beginning to act as if the threat from terrorism is over. Dozens of al-Qaida fighters remain alive within Afghanistan (news - web sites), although the military campaign there has severely disrupted the group, Wolfowitz said.

"The success is only interim success. There is still a great deal of work to be done," Wolfowitz told the conference. "I do fear the country has not absorbed that the conflict is far from over."

Pentagon strategy in Afghanistan relied on the fact that the Taliban rulers that sheltered al-Qaida terrorists were unpopular among Afghans, Wolfowitz said. The lesson, Wolfowitz said, is that key allies against governments that support terrorism include the people who must live under those governments.

About 60 percent of the U.S. weaponry used in Afghanistan has been precision-guided, steered to their targets by lasers or satellites, Wolfowitz said. A technological development that's just as important is the communications system that allows soldiers on the ground to describe targets to pilots, he said.

During the Gulf War (news - web sites), U.S. soldiers in western Iraq identified Scud missile sites but had no way to tell pilots where to drop their bombs, Wolfowitz said. As a result, American bombs didn't destroy any Scuds, he said.

___

On the Net:

Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil/