Afghanistan: October 9, 2001

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The Northern Alliance has begun an offensive against Taliban forces near the Tajik border. This fighting is apparently to clear out Taliban forces that seized key supply roads from Tajikistan to Northern Alliance held areas. By clearing the border area, the Taliban can more easily get food and weapons aid from Russia. In the past, Russia sold weapons to the Northern Alliance, but now they are giving it away. The Russians are still much hated in Afghanistan because of the death and destruction inflicted during the 1980s when Russian troops occupied Afghanistan. But there are an increasing number of CIA and US military advisors with the Northern Alliance. These men can be expected to help with guiding US air strikes against Taliban forces and supervising humanitarian aid (to make sure it gets to the people who need it most and doesnt get stolen.) The CIA people are there to keep tabs on the political situation, especially as the Northern Alliance advances into Pushtun territory. The Northern Alliance holds the Panjshir valley, 50 kilometers north of Kabul. But the Taliban hold the good roads from the north to Kabul, including the road going through the Salang tunnel, which is liable to be blown up. This would make it more difficult to get trucks and troops from the north to the south. We might see a commando operation to seize the Salang tunnel before the Taliban can destroy it. With the tunnel intact, the Northern Alliance can reinforce their forces enough to make a move for Kabul. But this city is in Pushtun city and the Taliban are largely a Pushtun organization. This is where the CIA comes in, to work with the Northern Alliance to try and cut deals with Pushtun leaders to forsake the Taliban and support a new government. If the Northern Alliance takes Kabul, that would be an opportunity for the deposed king to return from exile and call the Loya Jirga (parliament). Only the Loya Jirga can form a new government that would be recognized by the rest of the world (the current Taliban government is not.)

US warplanes are operating over Afghanistan night and day. The daylight missions allow better assessment of the bombing damage and bombing support for the Northern Alliance (and any US or British patrols that get into trouble as they roam around Taliban territory.) The few fixed Taliban targets have been hit. These included headquarters, airfields, military aircraft, terrorist training camps and communications (radio for staying in touch with distant military units as well as transmitters for broadcasts to the populations.) The US is now operating Commando Solo aircraft over Afghanistan. These specially equipped C-130 transports are flying radio stations, that can broadcast on frequencies normally used by the Taliban. This operation can make a big difference because the Afghans are big fans of radio. Not everyone has a short-wave radio (which can catch the popular Voice of America broadcasts), but every village has at least one AM radio and these can be reached by Commando Solo. In this way, the Afghan people can find out that America is looking for terrorists, not the conquest of Afghanistan. Reports on the National Alliance, the ex-king and the availability of American humanitarian aid can be made via Commando Solo aircraft. These can operate out of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, as these flights are very much humanitarian aid.

 

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