Skip to main content /US
CNN.com /US
SERVICES
CNN TV
EDITIONS


COMPLETE COVERAGE | FRONT LINES | AMERICA AT HOME | INTERACTIVES »

military.desk.graphic.gif

Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd: Great deal left to do

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


UPDATE: The big question is, "Are we about finished?" And the answer is no, we're not. A great deal remains to be done.

Two major areas have become the focal points of finishing up the first phase. In the town of Konduz, the Taliban forces there and the Arab, Pakistani, Kashmiri fighters are surrounded.

The situation in and around Kandahar is much more convoluted. First of all, that area is largely Pashtun and the Northern Alliance aren't there. It appears there are negotiations ongoing for the Taliban to hand power back to local Pashtun tribes. But it's uncertain, if that takes place, that sympathy for the Taliban will really be reduced. It does not appear any type of battle is imminent, because there are no major numbers of anti-Taliban military forces down there.

It's reported that hundreds of U.S. special forces troops are in the north and south of Afghanistan, establishing liaison, looking for intelligence and conducting operations. Today there was a report that five fuel truck drivers, stopped on the road between Herat and Jalalabad, were reportedly awakened by a U.S. special forces team with a Farsi speaker. They accused them of moving gasoline and aiding the Taliban. The drivers' trucks were destroyed and they were handcuffed, taken about four or five miles away, and released.

Join the War Room strategy debate on CNN.

Send us your military strategy questions and tune in to Wolf Blitzer Reports at 7 p.m. EST Monday through Friday to hear the experts respond.

Attack on America
 CNN.COM SPECIAL REPORT
 CNN NewsPass Video 
Agencies reportedly got hijack tips in 1998
 MORE STORIES
Intelligence intercept led to Buffalo suspects
Report cites warnings before 9/11
 EXTRA INFORMATION
Timeline: Who Knew What and When?
Interactive: Terror Investigation
Terror Warnings System
Most wanted terrorists
What looks suspicious?
In-Depth: America Remembers
In-Depth: Terror on Tape
In-Depth: How prepared is your city?
 RESOURCES
On the Scene: Barbara Starr: Al Qaeda hunt expands?
On the Scene: Peter Bergen: Getting al Qaeda to talk

IMPACT: It's obvious that major portions of the Taliban that remain in the country will attempt to hide in the hills and will seek to participate in guerrilla warfare. For that reason, I believe that's why you see the reports of the movement of U.S. Marines and their possible deployment into Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, it appears plans are underway for extensive humanitarian movements, particularly in the Mazar-e Sharif area. It was reported that significant numbers of German and British troops were going to be inserted to assist in fixing airports and assisting with humanitarian aid, but they've reportedly been turned back by the Northern Alliance. That really needs to be pursued, because we don't exactly know what that means yet.

On top of all this, there's the political situation. The Northern Alliance have agreed to meet in Germany with the other tribal groups and nations in an initial summit aimed at setting up a UN-backed government. On the other hand, they have also said that they want a "loya jirga" back in Kabul. A lot needs to be sorted out to see if indeed the Northern Alliance will surrender control of the country to some negotiated coalition government comprised of other tribes, including the Pashtuns in the south.

TACTICS: The Marines have been in the area for some time, namely in U.S. ships off the coast of Pakistan. Marine Expeditionary Units, or MEUs, are part of every carrier battle group. In this case, there's two groups -- the 15th MEU and the 26th MEU. Each one contains about 2,200 people, about 1,000 of them combat infantry Marines and the rest support personnel. These are reinforced, battalion-strength infantry units that have -- mostly via the helicopters that transport them -- their own firepower. They are also supported by Harrier jump jets.

These units can be used in cooperation with U.S. special forces. They can be inserted quickly and at any time for a specific objective -- such as, we think we've found bin Laden or want to cordon off an area where we suspect he is.

There are also reports, which have not yet been confirmed by the Pentagon, that AC-130 gunships have been moved into Uzbekistan. The rationale would be to get them closer to Afghanistan, so they don't require refueling and can spend more time in the area. That would be very helpful if the surrender of Konduz isn't smooth, with some pro-Taliban forces holding out. AC-130s help in house-to-house fighting, allowing you to surgically take out targets -- to hit one building, for instance, but spare its neighbor -- in urban terrain.

STRATEGY: The U.S. president and secretary of defense continue to remind Americans and the world that this war is not over when Afghanistan is over, that this is the first step. Gen. Franks reminded us further that even the first step is not finished -- the Taliban remain in some areas, the al Qaeda cells remain, and bin Laden has not been found. All that may take an extended period of time.

And just because, or if, the Taliban don't control any cities, it doesn't mean it's over. That's especially true in the Kandahar area if there's a power turnover to Pashtun tribal chiefs.

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.


horizontal.rule.gif

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.



 
 
 
 


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

U.S. TOP STORIES:

 Search   

Back to the top