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Shepperd: Efforts to impose order 'taking hold'

Retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd
Retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd

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(CNN) -- U.S. forces battling for Tikrit have secured the presidential palace in the north-central Iraq city, Saddam Hussein's ancestral homeland and the last major Iraqi city not under coalition control.

CNN anchor Bill Hemmer talked with retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd, a CNN military analyst, about the state of Iraqi resistance in Tikrit and efforts to restore order in Iraq.

HEMMER: Who is left to fight right now in Tikrit?

SHEPPERD: Not much in an organized form, Bill. The major part of the fighting is over throughout Iraq. There's going to be cleanup of pockets [of resistance] in Tikrit, and other cities that have not been visited. There's going to be sniping that's going to go on in Baghdad and other places for a long period of time, but the main part of fighting is over. There was very little organized resistance in Tikrit as well.

HEMMER: What do you think that says?

SHEPPERD: I think they've said that the main loyalists have vanished. Some of them have fled to cities that have not been visited yet by the coalition. Some of them have undoubtedly -- the high rollers -- fled to Syria, but they are essentially gone as an organized fighting force. Just cleanup now, Bill.

HEMMER: Yes, and what is happening overnight with the bombing on the outskirts of the city? These reports about 2,500 Republican Guard forces? Was that something that was not to be believed in the first place, or is that something that has since then dispersed?

SHEPPERD: I think it has since then dispersed. Basically, that was on the approach to the city. Those people were the last bastions of defense of the city itself. They were cleaned up by air and also by the approaching ground forces. Now they're gone, fled. They're in the business now of exploiting the underground areas of Tikrit and the other areas that they have interest in.

HEMMER: Don, I want to get your thoughts on what appears to be, day by day, the increasing police effort, how a soldier or a Marine has to transform him or herself into that duty and role of a police officer. You could say right now in Iraq this is the great experiment, the Iraqis need the American military for support and to get things up and running again. The American military needs the Iraqis' cooperation to make sure this thing works.

How do you see right now -- with the fall of Tikrit imminent, the activity we're getting on the streets of Baghdad, what has happened already and transpired in Basra -- this effort of cooperation? Is it taking hold, or is this something right now that is going to be much more difficult than we can imagine?

SHEPPERD: It's taking hold, Bill. We're at the early stages, but it's happening. The people are coming forward. The police are going back to work. Lots of effort to getting electricity, water, the hospitals back working. But basically, all of the systems are starting to work now, and it's just a matter of establishing a new government. That is going to be the difficult thing, and it's going to take many weeks or months before it's spread throughout the country and really, really working well.

Retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd was in the U.S. Air Force for almost 40 years and flew 247 fighter combat missions in Vietnam. He served at the Pentagon as the Air National Guard commander and was directly involved in planning the use of Air National Guard forces during the Persian Gulf War. Shepperd runs a defense consulting firm called The Shepperd Group. He is one of CNN's military analysts, along with retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark and retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Grange. Their briefings will appear daily on CNN.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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