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Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd: Intense attacks weaken Taliban
Don Shepperd is a retired U.S. Air Force major general and a military analyst for CNN.
Don Shepperd is a retired U.S. Air Force major general and a military analyst for CNN.  


Update: [Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez] Musharraf is calling loudly for the end of action against the Taliban. It's apparent to those of us who are watching this that the attacks are intensifying. Monday was the first report late that we are going against the fielded forces. And we did that with the AC-130 gunship armed with three guns, a 40 mm mortar, 105 mm howitzer and another 40 mm gun.

Impact: We are setting the conditions to defeat the Taliban. I see us continuing to run out of fixed targets and beginning to operate against fielded forces soon. And [Department of Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld indicated that in his remarks Monday that those supporting the Taliban in the field will soon be sorry.

Strategy: We are being very careful because of Pakistan's opposition to the Northern Alliance and our need for Pakistan's airspace and Pakistan's bases. It will be resented by the Pakistanis of whom 87 percent supposedly in an unscientific poll are said to be opposed to the Northern Alliance. [The Northern Alliance is made up of] Uzbeks and Tajiks, whereas the largest ethnic group [in Afghanistan] is Pashtun. So there is an ethnic tension there. So whatever government takes over has got to be a coalition. The [former Afghan] king is Pashtun.

Tactics: The attacks on the forces will affect the resupply of the Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif area. And there are reports that the Northern Alliance is moving closer to these areas. All of that indicates to me that the Taliban is being weakened. We would like to weaken the Taliban further. There were reports that 4,000 Taliban defected. Now if that were true, 4,000 out of 40,000 to 50,000 would be an enormous number of fighters.

[Taliban forces] blend in in cities, and also they are not radar reflective. But the other thing is if the Northern Alliance begins to attack in big cities, these troops have to mass to prevent the Northern Alliance from doing it. When they mass, they become lucrative targets for air power.


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U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark (retired), a former NATO supreme commander; U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Grange (retired); and Air Force Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd (retired) are serving as CNN military analysts during the war against terror. Their briefings will appear daily on CNN.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN is sensitive to reporting any information that could endanger lives or operations.