U.S. special forces added to resupply opposition in winter

Monday, November 5, 2001

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military inserted more special forces into Afghanistan as top commanders said Sunday the Taliban government is weakening but still controls substantial troops that will take time to thin out and conquer.

"We're setting in for the long haul," said Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We are going to continue to resupply" the anti-Taliban fighters of the opposition northern alliance "right through the winter," Myers said. "We think that they have every chance of prevailing."

Underscoring the drawn-out nature of the conflict, Myers said a couple more teams of special forces were inserted in Afghanistan in the last day or so.

The teams are working with opposition leaders and "the more teams we get on the ground, the more effectively we'll bring air power to bear on the Taliban lines," Myers said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Myers said the United States has taken down Taliban air defenses, their transportation for resupplying their troops and their communications.

"They have a substantial force left, but at this point that's exactly what we expected," Myers said.

Myers and Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces in the war, declined to say whether it would take a major deployment of U.S. ground troops to topple the Taliban.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Franks was asked whether he would rule out the use of a large number of ground forces. "Absolutely not," he replied.

On a more immediate question, Franks said the United States would listen to its allies on whether to conduct the war during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins around Nov. 17, and then make a decision on whether to move ahead.

"I think we'd be awfully foolish to not listen to people who have joined with us in this campaign," Franks said.

President Bush indicated last week the campaign would not ease during Ramadan. "The enemy won't rest during Ramadan and neither will we," Bush said.

Members of Congress said it is too early to tell how long the war will last or whether more ground troops will be needed.

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