Skip to main content /US /US



Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd: Broadcasts hint at ground troops

Don Shepperd is a retired U.S. Air Force major general and a military analyst for CNN.  

Update: The Pentagon is sending radio broadcasts into Afghanistan telling the Taliban they are "condemned." The messages seem to suggest that U.S. troops will eventually be on the ground in that country. An English translation posted on the Pentagon's Web site gives the Taliban forces instructions how to surrender to U.S. troops.

Impact: Of course military psychologists are involved, and also we've talked to Afghanistan residents about how to get this message across. Some of the people see it as a holy war. Some of them are just confused and tired of war over the ages. And therefore what you're doing is trying to talk to these people.

Several things should be coming clear to them. One, we are not bombing their cities, and two, we are not bombing indiscriminately. We are after military targets. That word should get out to the populace fairly quickly. We're trying to make it clear to them this is not a holy war, this is not against Islam. We're trying to encourage them not to support the Taliban. We're after them, not you as the Afghan people. That's the message of the propaganda.

Strategy: The military strikes are clearly moving now away from fixed targets and into fielded forces and their equipment. Now combined with this, you also now have engagement zones, in which you will divide the country up into boxes, if you will, and you put constant airborne fighters over each one of these boxes under AFAC. That stands for airborne forward air controller.

The airborne forward air controller will look for targets. He will have a fixed target as a backup, but he will also look for targets that appear, and he will search for targets such as troops, movement of troops, truck convoys, tanks and that type of thing. And when he sees them, he will strike them himself or call in other fighters to strike them. To do this, they establish rules of engagement. You can't just shoot anything that moves, but you have certain things that you look for and are cleared to hit when you see them and identify them.

Tactics: You also may see a switch. Instead of the bombs and the satellite-guided bombs and the GPS bombs, you may see us switching to some maverick missiles. That's an IR (infrared) missile that you can lock onto a heat source. And you can fire an IR missile at these heat sources and hit a moving target -- for instance, a truck that's moving or a tank that's moving. If it's a moving target, then missiles are more effective, You may see some air-to-ground missiles coming in.

The basis of the propaganda is to let the Taliban know that the time is up, that their targets are being destroyed and they can feel it in the field. And we're encouraging them to surrender and giving them instructions on how to surrender. Now having said that, you would think the question is, "Well, who do you surrender to and where?" I think this is the message of a threat of insertion of U.S. forces. I don't know if that's the case, but that's the indication you get from the leaflets.


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.


See related sites about US
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.



Back to the top