Browse Topics



The Mobilization

listenMilitary Puts New Emphasis on Middle Eastern Languages
At the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., members of the armed forces receive intensive training in foreign languages. Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages are getting fresh attention. Alex Cohen reports for Weekend All Things Considered. Oct. 13, 2001.

listenBush Security Advisers a Diverse Lot
In daily meetings with President Bush, top military, diplomatic and intelligence officials are shaping the U.S. assault on terrorism. NPR's Don Gonyea offers background on the key players for Weekend Edition Saturday. Oct. 13, 2001.

Sept. 11 Attacks Spur a Multi-Pronged 'War on Terrorism'

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk

The USS Kitty Hawk from the Pacific Fleet leaving its home port near Tokyo. Oct. 1.
Photo: Reuters/US Navy/Lee McCaskill

When terrorists crashed four hijacked jets into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001, they launched the United States into what President Bush calls "a different kind of conflict against a different kind of enemy."

In this newly-declared "war on terrorism," the first mobilizations were rescue and recovery missions. The collapse of Trade Center buildings -- including the famous "twin towers" hit by two jetliners- claimed nearly 5,000 victims, their remains entombed in a towering pile of rubble. Scores more died when a third jet cut a gash in Pentagon wall, and when passengers on the fourth jet attacked the hijackers - probably thwarting plans to crash that craft, too, into a U.S. landmark.

Within days of the attacks, the United States was laying groundwork for retaliation.

Taliban Military Profile

Controls more than two-thirds of Afghanistan

40,000 to 50,000 lightly-armed troops

Approx. 650 armored vehicles

Maintains Soviet-made T-62,
T-54, T-55 battle tanks

5 MiG-21 fighters, 10 Su-22 fighter-bombers, dozens of support aircraft

Anti-aircraft guns, possibly U.S.-made Stinger surface-to-air missiles

Territory also used by militant groups like bin Laden's terrorism network

Main domestic opposition is Northern Alliance with 13,000 soldiers

On the diplomatic front, the United States shored up support from its allies to build a global coalition, anchored by European nations and NATO. Among Afghanistan's neighbors, the United States won critical support from several key nations, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.

On the military front, Pentagon officials began dispatching ground, naval and air forces in the Persian Gulf region. The Pentagon also sent additional aircraft carriers to the region, including the USS Kitty Hawk from the Pacific Fleet, to complement the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Enterprise that were already stationed in the Persian Gulf before the September attacks. By the time the first airstrikes occurred on Oct. 7, the Pentagon had deployed more than 100 warplanes, as well as soldiers and sailors, to the Middle East and Indian Ocean.

Learn more about the fighter planes taking part in the U.S. military campaign.

Read more about U.S. efforts to assess and defend against domestic terrorist threats.

Other Resources

The White House and the U.S. Department of Defense Web sites offer the latest statements on military mobilization.

The Brookings Institution offers an analysis on the U.S. military options.