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Maj. Gen. Wesley Clark: Military campaign adds to diplomatic pressure

Retired Army General and CNN military analyst Wesley Clark is a former NATO supreme commander.  

Update: The air campaign is still intense. There may be plans to increase the intensity of the campaign even further with more ground teams and with armed helicopters.

The military piece, because it is escalating every day, it seems that there is a sense of urgency about this. And the question is, What is driving it and what are the consequences?

It may be driven by the belief that the sooner you can get Osama bin Laden and break up the Taliban, the sooner you can end the problem of terrorism.

But the president himself has indicated the terrorist problem is far more widespread and deeper than that.

Impact: Some observers have said the military aspect of the campaign has outrun the diplomatic piece. What is driving the urgency of the military? Is it a belief that the problem should be solved as rapidly as possible militarily because the diplomacy is less important or that the diplomacy can follow because of the onset of winter?

Is it concerned that Pakistan cannot support an extended campaign? Is it to free up U.S. Marine forces to redeploy elsewhere? Or it is simply that this is a mistaken perception, that in fact the diplomacy and the military campaign are in perfect synchronization?

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They are asking what will happen when the Taliban collapses. They are asking who will provide peacekeeping forces, under what rules of engagement. They are asking what are the legal procedures that are under way to harness the power of international law against the Taliban and against Osama bin Laden so all of these diplomatic niceties or maybe necessities will take time.

Strategy: There will be a lot of effort on the diplomatic side to catch up with the pace of military activities.

Tactics: If Mazar-e-Sharif falls, it facilitates the resupply of the Northern Alliance, it links up forces of the Northern Alliance, and it enables the Northern Alliance to gain even more defections from the Taliban.

If the Northern Alliance takes the city, it would be a major shift of the balance of power inside Afghanistan. It takes away some of the threat that Uzbekistan may have felt along its southern border.

It would also enable the United States, if it chose to do so, to get forces and bases inside Afghanistan and shorten our response time to battlefield conditions.


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

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


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