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Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd: U.S. gets help
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Don Shepperd is a retired U.S. Air Force major general and a military analyst for CNN.  


Update: Longtime ally Australia and Iran have made commitments to the United States in its war on terrorism. Australian officials said they will tender military support, and Iran will offer American pilots safe harbor if they find themselves shot down or forced to land in Iranian territory. However, the United States does not have permission to use Iranian airspace for its campaign in Afghanistan.

Impact: It indicates diplomacy is working in a worldwide assault on this terrorism. Australia has always been an ally of us through almost everything -- World War II, Korea, Vietnam. (Australia's) help of ships is especially welcome because it's very difficult to keep sustained operations on the water. If they can add ships such as radar ships, supply ships and that type of thing to the battle group, it really helps relieve our forces. So it's important; it's not just symbolic. They essentially maintain the presence while our ships get restocked.

Strategy: There are a couple of very significant things that have happened from a strategy standpoint. One is the statement by Iran that they will assist in the rescue of downed pilots. That is exceedingly important. What that would do is if an airplane was damaged in operating in the western part of Afghanistan, he could head for Iran and have a sanctuary there where he could bail out. It's important from a physical standpoint that our pilots have a sanctuary. But it's also most important diplomatically. This is indication that we and Iran are talking, and that's a huge development. We are trying to encourage the moderate regime in Iran and establish contact with them.

Tactics: You want to go to the center of things that enable [the front line] to fight and that is munitions, fuel, oil, food and communications. You need to cut those things off so they are essentially irrelevant. All they are left with is their rifles and the ammunition they have and the internal communications. If they can't communicate with their headquarters, if they can't get to resupply their ammunitions, they are essentially just sitting ducks.

There have been numerous reports of the Northern Alliance putting pressure on Mazar-e Sharif. I suspect that will be the first thing to fall. We've done a lot of work in Kandahar, the political center of the Taliban. All these things are adding up, and I predict that eventually there will be a sudden collapse of the Taliban nationwide in which they will not be able to move, to fight, and they will essentially fold to a political settlement for a coalition government in Kabul.


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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.



 
 
 
 



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