The Defense Department's war on terrorism is the most important military action undertaken by U.S. forces since World War II, according to Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "This is the most significant task I have been asked to undertake," said Myers, who has been in uniform for more than three decades, at a Pentagon press briefing Thursday. He called the war on terrorism different from other recent military actions because it involved a direct attack on the United States homeland. Myers said the United States is prepared to use a "full spectrum" of capabilities to rout the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the country, including ground troops. He said U.S.-led military forces continue to make progress in destroying the Taliban's Afghanistan infrastructure and said that in the last 24 hours, those forces struck more than a dozen targets, including terrorist camps, missile and vehicle storage areas, airfields and command and control centers. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stressed that the United States is not leading a single coalition against terrorism, but multiple coalitions that will be flexible and change over time as they are aimed at different enemies. In some cases, nations may not provide military forces but rather diplomatic or financial support. "The mission determines that coalition, the coalition must not determine the mission," he said. Rumsfeld also said the United States would have an interest in "helping" a post-Taliban Afghanistan. But, he said, it was too early to say whether that would entail only economic and humanitarian support or participation in a multinational peacekeeping force. Additionally, Rumsfeld confirmed the presence of Al Qaeda terrorist training camps in Somalia and would not rule out strikes against them.
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