The Pentagon said it is too early to say when the final pockets of Taleban and al-Qaida resistance in Afghanistan will fall. But top defense officials are upbeat about the latest progress in the war.
Speaking one day after a lone U.S. B-1 bomber struck and destroyed a suspected Taleban leadership compound near Kandahar, Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem of the military's Joint Staff said the military pressure on the Taleban and al-Qaida is breaking down the resistance of those groups' remaining followers."The pressure has been stepped up and there are fewer Taleban and al-Qaida forces that are resisting than there were days ago," he said.
The Pentagon said it still does not know whether Taleban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was in the compound bombed late Tuesday. The Taleban denied he was there. But defense officials said they had intelligence suggesting senior leaders of the group were present.
Admiral Stufflebeem showed reporters at the Pentagon video of the airstrike. Bombs were clearly visible ripping through the compound.
He said the concentration of the latest airstrikes on leadership targets is having an effect on the ability of Taleban and al-Qaida commanders to coordinate their forces' activities."I think that to say that they are still calling the shots and are still firmly in control would be an overstatement. I think they have much less control than they have had in the past" he said.
Admiral Stufflebeem said leaflets being dropped by U.S. planes are also having an effect on convincing Taleban troops to give up."We are still delivering messages to have those pockets of resistance, to have those kinds of individuals surrender and give up their fight. I would tell you we are starting to see some success from those. In having interviews with those who are detained, there is information that is coming forward that they are having a positive effect," he said.
Admiral Stufflebeem spoke after George Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence, confirmed a CIA officer was killed in a bloody uprising by Taleban prisoners near Mazar-e-Sharif.
In an unusual statement, Mr. Tenet called 32-year-old former Marine Johnny "Mike" Spann an American hero. His body was recovered Wednesday. The CIA did not disclose the circumstances of his death but indicated Mr. Spann was involved in interrogating Taleban prisoners.