Maj. Gen. David Grange: Cutting off al Qaeda
UPDATE: Regarding the search for bin Laden, the Afghans are saying they've narrowed it down to a mile and a half.
I'm not sure that's true. I don't think there's any good, hard (intelligence) on that. He may be in that area, or he may be in the cave complexes up by Tora Bora or another one, about five miles away called Zawar -- the Soviets called it the "wolf's den" -- if he's there at all.
The thing is, the upper peaks are already full of snow. The fighting right now is on the approach routes through the foothills to Tora Bora, where it's a little warmer. That's where you're seeing the security forces of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations -- around the lower hills of Tora Bora itself.
TACTICS: The airstrikes are critical because what they do is, they take out a lot of these security forces. You've got to eliminate them and set up a cordon so they can't escape, because there's a lot of escape routes out of these complexes. So it takes a fairly good-sized force to do just that.
At the same time, you're using penetrating munitions and what they call "skip" munitions that penetrate through the opening of a cave. They bounce along a hallway and they don't go off right away. They go through a second penetration and then go off. And then they have the "daisy cutters" and the fuel-air explosives that suck all the air out of the area where they explode.
But if you have cave complexes that are mulitlayered, with good doors, they won't take out all the compartments -- just the ones that fuel-air explosives can ignite in. So it's going to require people to go in and place explosives by hand, maybe of the same type.
It's still a very lengthy process, and bombs themselves can't do it. You've still got to put people in there. The thing is, how much gumption -- how much drive -- do these anti-Taliban forces have? They're the ones who were fighting the Taliban around this area, and they also fought the Soviets there. But you wonder how much drive they're going to have.
This may require some other allied ground forces to fight alongside these anti-Taliban guys. Even if they've got information that bin Laden was not there, you would still want to get some of these al Qaeda leaders who are in there. You don't want these guys to live and fight another day. You can't let them leave. Where would they go -- Pakistan? Then that becomes another sanctuary.
STRATEGY: One of our missions in Afghanistan was to break the al Qaeda network. It was to break the Taliban, which was a secure cocoon for al Qaeda. The third was do deny Afghanistan as a sanctuary for the terrorists, which you've pretty much completed so far, but there's still a lot more to be done. The other was to show the world we mean business with this attack on terrorism.
We've got some forces, I think, on the Pakistani side of the border. That's very sensitive, but we've got the keep the pressure on Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. You've got to get his people to round these guys up or chase them back over to Afghanistan before it (Pakistan) becomes a sanctuary, like Laos in Vietnam.
When they fought the Soviets, that's where they went (Pakistan). That's what the Mujahedeen used as their base of operations, to launch their attacks in Afghanistan, and I think there are a lot of them there now. They have support there, and I wouldn't doubt if some of those complexes are dug in under the border. Some, I understand, are within a couple of hundred meters of the border. That's pretty damn close.
But if Pakistan becomes a sanctuary, and it's ignored by the Pakistani government, then we've created another issue. Diplomatic pressure has to be put on to keep these guys out. They can't stop them all, but they know where those routes are.
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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