Maj. Gen. David Grange: Fight to the death at Konduz
UPDATE: In Konduz, there are several hard-core Taliban commanders, probably from the foreign mercenary forces, and indications are they are mostly foreigners -- Pakistani, Saudi, Chechens, Indonesian, Burmese, et cetera.
They have no future, so they have to fight. I believe in Konduz there are some elements there that are, one, obsessed enough to die for bin Laden; and two, they're going to die anyway, so they're just going to cause as much havoc as they can before they go. I may be wrong, but I don't see them surrendering.
A lot of Taliban units probably can't defect -- even though they probably would -- from these hard-core mercenaries. And you've got civilians there who are going to take the most punishment from this. They're going to be terrorized by the Taliban in the city, and some will get killed in the fighting, either from airstrikes or from firefights on the ground.
IMPACT: In Kandahar, (Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad) Omar is getting pretty desperate. I think he's doing a lot of behind-the-scenes negotiating that we don't hear about. ... he know that either the anti-Taliban forces of the international coalition are going to kill him. So he's got to survive as long as he can or escape.
Kandahar will eventually fall, but ... through the influence of the international community, the anti-Taliban are negotiating with the Taliban to get them to change sides, so there will be less chance for death.
TACTICS: As the coalition continues to look for bin Laden, I think they should exploit reports that say bin Laden has slipped out. You've got a guy who preaches, "Die for Allah, go to your death for the jihad," but he doesn't stay and fight, he runs to save himself -- to Pakistan or some other country. We should exploit that with psychological warfare, to argue that their leader is saying "Here, you guys fight to the death, I'll see you later."
I'm not saying that I think he's gone. But ... if it's been reported, that ought to exploited, to discredit him more.
Meanwhile, you move along with this coalition government as bests you can and get that international observer force in. Whether you call it peacekeeping, peace enforcement, you need to get them in.
They need to keep a cordon around Kandahar. As people can, they are slipping out; people are changing sides.
STRATEGY: The anti-Taliban forces have got a little more time around Kandahar because the weather's a little better than it is up north. Give it some time to work. What's the rush about going in there? People are going to fight to the death in the city. City fighting is bad news.
For the Northern Alliance to go in there full force would be a bad fight. I wouldn't send American or international troops in there yet, while it's still a civil war-type scenario. Eventually, the U.S. can put some guys in, but I wouldn't do it right yet.
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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