Bombing Intensifies, New Spy Planes Introduced
In other military action, U.S. B-52 bombers blasted Taliban frontlines north of Kabul, destroying a Taliban field command center.
U.S missiles also struck Taliban strongholds near Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar. Reports say the hits destroyed 13 Taliban tanks, as well as several heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons.
According to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers, six B-52s rained down more than 40 unguided bombs on Taliban troops. The B-52s completed several bombing runs. General Myers told reporters that the strikes were “having effects.”
Friday’s bombing was the heaviest so far along the Kabul front. The intense bombing is intended to help the Northern Alliance to break the Taliban’s front lines.
Anti-Taliban forces appear to be outgunned and outmanned by the Taliban, despite reinforcement. Heavier US bombardments in recent days have not given way to significant opposition gains.
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has confirmed that roughly 200 U.S. Special Operations forces are on the ground helping warplanes identify targets.
He also said that he wants to increase the number of Special forces dramatically, but that Taliban fire and inclement weather are hampering efforts.
Rumsfeld and Myers said the strikes against Taliban strongholds account for 80 percent of the missions flown over Afghanistan.
“We would probably be using a higher percentage if we had more people effectively providing the target information than we currently do, and the weather had been better over the last week or two or three, and we could have gotten those folks in,” Rumsfeld said.
The Pentagon will deploy three JSTARS surveillance aircraft—planes that can track precise movements of troops on the ground—and three Global Hawks, high-flying unmanned reconnaissance drones.
Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem denied that the deployment of surveillance planes suggested an imminent ground offensive.