Washington — Sen. John McCain said Sunday that America must unleash "all the might of United States military power," including large numbers of ground troops, to prevail in Afghanistan. Bush administration officials said the Taliban is being weakened, but warned Americans must be prepared for a drawn-out conflict.
Some 100 airborne Rangers and other special ground troops struck a Taliban-controlled airfield and a residence of a Taliban leader earlier this month, but McCain said that was not enough. He called for a "very, very significant" force large enough to capture and hold territory.
"I think what we're going to have to put in (is) numbers of forces that are capable of maintaining a base for a period of time, relatively short, so they can branch out and move into certain areas where we believe that the Taliban and al-Qaida's networks are located," the Arizona Republican said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"It's going to take a very big effort and probably casualties will be involved and it won't be accomplished through air power alone," he said on CNN's "Late Edition."
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he agreed with McCain that large numbers of ground troops may be needed. And Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., said if President Bush "comes to the conclusion that it's going to take that or something like that in order to get these people and to get this network torn down, I would support it."
Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld were noncommittal when asked about significant ground forces. "Let's not go there yet," Card said on NBC's "Meet the Press."