Their Troops Quit When Taliban, Al Qaeda Leaders Break
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2001 There will always be enemy diehards who will fight to the death, "but if we break the leadership of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, there's reduced motivation for troops to stay loyal to the cause and continue to fight," Navy Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem told reporters during a Pentagon news briefing today.
"Therefore, the pressure is on that leadership," the admiral said. "We're doing it in a multitude of ways. Initially, we're talking about getting at the legs of the stool that supported that leadership. With much of that now gone, and much of the leadership in hiding and trying to survive, the pressure is being applied to shrink down the areas where they can (hide). Then, they make the decision whether they're going to surrender or fight to the death."
The Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders are trying to communicate by radio and face-to-face meetings, but in some cases, they've been isolated and their communications are totally severed, said Stufflebeem, Joint Staff deputy director of operations for current readiness and capabilities.
"The effect is that the troops under their control are not going to know what they should be doing," he said. "Anytime you can dismantle the leadership or the chain of command, you then have groups of troops who are uncoordinated, uncontrolled and therefore much less effective." To say that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden still call the shots would be an overstatement, he said.
Consequently, the U.S. campaign against terrorism continues to focus on pressuring the Al Qaeda and Taliban through air strikes on fixed and emerging targets, he said. "We also continue to increase the number of Marines on the ground in southern Afghanistan," Stufflebeem noted.
"We conducted air strikes (Nov. 27) in four planned target areas concentrated against Taliban and Al Qaeda cave and tunnel complexes and support infrastructure in the Jalalabad area, as well as emerging targets in the south, which included command and control elements and Taliban military forces," he said.
Stufflebeem said the United States used about 120 strike aircraft. About 100 were carrier-based, 12 to 14 were land- based and six to eight were long-range bombers.
Leaflets were dropped in the Kunduz and Kabul areas and Commando Solo aerial broadcast missions continued. A variety of leaflets being dropped included providing information to Afghans about humanitarian assistance, use of radios, wanted posters for Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders and messages encouraging enemy troops to surrender and give up the fight.
"We're starting to see some success from those," Stufflebeem said. "In interviews with those detained, there is information coming forward that having a positive effect."
Two C-17 cargo planes dropped more than 34,000 Humanitarian Daily Ration packets, and one C-17 dropped 16 containers of wheat and blankets near Mazar-e Sharif. To date, the United States has delivered more than 1.9 million daily rations.
The admiral showed video clips of recent strikes in southern Afghanistan. A Nov. 25 clip depicted Navy F-14 images of two strikes in a series of attacks on an armored column that was heading toward infiltrating U.S. Marine forces. The vehicles were destroyed, and secondary explosions indicated the convoy's cargo had included fuel and ammunition, Stufflebeem said.
Video clips from Nov. 27 action showed strikes on reported Taliban leadership locations near Kandahar. The videos were from F-16 gun cameras that show multiple precision-guided munitions dropped by a B-1 bomber. A zoomed-in clip showed the targeted facility was destroyed.
"We don't have any names or information of who may have been in that facility other than the initial reports of it being Taliban leadership," Stufflebeem told reporters. "We were confident that it was Taliban leadership. We're always going to be hopeful that the senior leadership will be in one of these (targeted) locations."