US Special Forces Painting Targets in Afghanistan
Vol: 1 Issue: 23 Tuesday, October 23, 2001
Taliban front-line positions have been taking a pasting from US bombers for the last several days. The bombs have consistently found their mark — in part because there are US special forces on the ground ‘painting’ the targets with laser designators. US special forces activity has apparently increased in northern Afghanistan in recent days. One special forces team, believed to be an intelligence liaison group, is presently based in the Panjshir Valley, close to the Shomali plain and the frontlines north of Kabul. According to Jane’s Defense Digest, another SF group was last week operating with UF Uzbek leader Gen Abdul Rashid Dostam in a UF-controlled pocket in northern Samangan province. Major Taliban and allied concentrations, including several thousand Arab, Pakistani and other foreign militants, are grouped along the Shomali front north of Kabul; and in a wide defensive arc west of the Kokcha River screening the northeastern town of Taloqan.
Tears of Allah
Osama bin-Laden has used the Koran and Islam to justify his terrorist activities. He begins every tirade against the West with quotes from the Koran and dedicates his efforts to Allah and Mohammed. bin-Laden has used promises of Paradise to seduce followers to commit suicide in efforts to destroy as many human beings as possible in attacks like 9/11. It is feared he will unleash further suicide attacks against US cities using whatever bioweapons he has available to him. The most dreaded threat comes from infecting some deluded follower with smallpox, then sending him on a coast to coast sightseeing trip across the United States. But bin-Laden also has a very prosperous drug running operation. Among his products is a new liquid heroin financed by Osama bin Laden, called the Tears of Allah . Increased seizure rates on the Afghan-Iranian and Afghan-Tajik borders suggest large shipments of opium and heroin were being moved out of Afghanistan.
Not Every Target A Bulls’ Eye
The United States allegedly accidentally bombed Northern Alliance positions Oct. 22, mistaking them for Taliban posts during the third night of raids on troop concentrations north of Kabul. Four photographers reported seeing American planes drop at least two bombs on the opposition forces before turning to attack the Taliban positions.
Taliban Claims Two US Helicopters
The Taliban claims they shot down two US helicopters. CNN obligingly loaned its diminishing credibility to the claim by photographing the ‘evidence’; dual-wheel undercarriage and two single wheels. Visible in the photographs from CNN is the number plate bearing the words “Boeing” and “Philadelphia.” The Pentagon denies the claim. If true, however, the parts are consistent with a Boeing Vertol CH-47 Chinook. The MH-47 variant of that twin-rotor helicopter is used by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, which may have been deployed to the region in support of Special Forces ground units. The Pentagon does acknowledge the loss of a helicopter that crashed on the Pakistani side of the border, killing two US soldiers, which could explain the source of the photographed helicopter parts. But the Pentagon adamantly denies it was shot down by the Taliban.
US May Test 80 Year Old Theory
Ever since General Billy Mitchell proved to the US Navy that battleships were no match for bombers, theorists have advanced the notion that a war could be fought solely by the use of air power with no need for a ground war. Now that winter is approaching, and given the terrain and history of war in Afghanistan, some are suggesting it is time to dust the theory off and give it another test. It was tested [and failed] during the precision daylight bombing campaigns against Germany that cost the US tens of thousands of bombers and crews. It was tested [and failed] in the carpet bombing of North Vietnam. It was tested [and failed] in the Persian Gulf War [although it came closer than in any previous effort]. After several months of sustained precision bombing, the ground war only took 100 hours and the US sustained minimal casualties.
Air Power Appears To Be The Only Way — For Now
There is a buzz at the Pentagon that maybe the US might forego a traditional ground war and keep pasting the Taliban from the air. The only way to really reach the Taliban right now — the opposition Northern Alliance notwithstanding — is with air power. Apart from small-unit support from special operations teams on the ground, the U.S. Air Force and Navy bear the burden and have the opportunity to demonstrate that they can be decisive on the battlefield by forcing the Taliban to capitulate or at the very least fragment.
Giving the Theory One More Try
Using a variety of anti-personnel devices, U.S. aircraft appear to be systematically conducting a concentrated attack against the Taliban’s ground forces. The focus is on causing such damage to the Taliban’s military capability that it will cease to be effective. The US fears the fragile coalition might fragment in the event winter comes and leaves the Taliban intact. It is even more worried that taking the pressure off for the winter months will cause political support to lose momentum. But if they can decimate the Taliban in the month or so remaining, the US hopes to be able to spend the Afghan winter building a new coalition government. If not, the Pentagon will have only two choices: pour fresh forces into the campaign, diverting them from other regions such as the Middle East, or else postpone the ground assault on the cities until the end of winter.