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Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd: Victory will come slowly

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

Update: The story right now is frustration. But this is what goes on in every war. When we were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1990, we sat there for six months and didn't do anything. Then we started hostilities in late January 1991. In the Afghanistan campaign, we rushed forces to this area and started hostilities immediately with airstrikes and Special Forces operations so there's a big difference in the speed in which we've gone in there.

Impact: People have forgotten that war is slow. The cumulative effects over time of military action is what does the job and forces the eventual political solution. It takes however long it takes -- if it takes days, weeks, months and years.

Tactics: The story is continued operations against more of the frontline troops. What we are doing is finding targets that are deployed in the field and hitting those targets. This is a very frustrating phase because you are essentially digging them out. We have guerillas basically hiding in the hills and interspersed with the population so we have to be very careful when we go after them. But the message they are seeing right now is that there is no sanctuary. If they move things into populated areas, we will take them out with precision weapons. It is most difficult to understand. It does not come with quick victory. It comes with slow victory. And you've got the holy month of Ramadan and winter coming, which complicates the scenario.

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Strategy: It's halfway around the world. We've been at it more than three weeks in very difficult terrain with an enemy that's dispersed in the hills. All of us are still used to front lines, and we're used to cities falling and countries falling. That's not the way this war is going to be. It's going to be a drug-out campaign. This is a different story all together.

The important thing that you don't see is the financial things that include the cutting of money and the denying of support, and all this over time will have its cumulative effect. The finances are going to take plenty of time. They've got lots of ammunition and things stored in caves, and they will be resupplied from other sources. The black market is one big place, and money talks. As long as they've got money, they can buy it through the black market and get it in hundreds of ways through back roads and stuff through Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. But we will make it harder and harder over time.

One other thing is the assassination of [anti-Taliban leader Abdul] Haq. ... If you had [a rescue] planned ahead of time, with forces on alert who knew where he was, where he was going to be, then you could have put something together [to help Haq]. But trying to put something together on the fly to support one man when you don't know where he is exactly, who's with him and where he's going -- this would have been virtually impossible. You would have to have intelligence and a well-planned operation with air support on call. Trying to make phone calls to the United States saying, "Come help me," when you have no idea who's calling, what the truth is, who else is involved, is just an impossible situation. It's totally understandable that there was no major successful effort to help this individual.


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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