Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd: Expect more frontline attacks
Update: It appears that increasing attacks on the front lines are a fact. We will continue to hit targets of opportunity away from the front lines when they present themselves, but we will concentrate on the front lines. These strikes will increase with intensity as we increase our liaison with the Northern Alliance and other opposition forces in the area.
Tactics: The trick here is to sort out the location of the enemies from the friendly forces, and that is very difficult. Bad weather further complicates that. You have to have a liaison with the forces on the ground to make sure you know what you're doing.
Impact: There is no question that as we increase our strikes, there will be more collateral damage. A lot of the bombing is in close proximity to Kabul. There are also small villages in the area. I think the message is, "We will be as careful as possible." We are going to go after military targets no matter where they are. If the Taliban or al Qaeda hides their military targets in populated areas, the U.S. and coalition forces are still going to go after them. It's a nasty business and that's what makes waging war such a serious business.
Despite the people's frustration with our progress, we will prevail. It's the same in every war. Remember in the Persian Gulf War, we started moving forces on August 9 or 10, and nothing happened for almost six months. Then we went to war in January. So it took a long time to even get the forces there. In this case, we have gotten the forces in place rapidly and have begun action, but it's the same thing. Nothing may happen for quite a while, but one day you'll see a sudden collapse of the Taliban. The effects of military force are cumulative over time, and there is no one, including the Taliban, that can predict when the effects of this military campaign are going to take place.
Strategy: Clearly we are strengthening the Northern Alliance and other opposition forces as we are weakening the Taliban. We are also adding to the strength of our coalition forces. The addition of British commandos is one example. There are undoubtedly other things we will be doing to strengthen the coalition forces. At some point the Taliban will lose. It's just a matter of when.
Of course, there are some things complicating this strategy. There is winter, and the coming of the holy month of Ramadan in mid-November. There were reports Saturday of some forces from Pakistan crossing the border to fight with the Taliban. Remember that President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned us early on that this is going to be very difficult.
The difference between this conflict and others with which we may compare it is that the United States was attacked, our citizens were killed. Our resolve is there. I predict that, no matter how long it takes, our resolve will be there. We are going to see this through to the end.
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 CNN.com.
EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN is sensitive to reporting any information that could endanger lives or operations.
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