WASHINGTON -- More U.S. special forces entered Afghanistan to support anti-Taliban rebels 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.''
The general said a couple more teams of special forces were inserted in Afghanistan the last few days. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said last week he hoped to at least triple the number of special forces inside Afghanistan, now believed to number between 100 and 200.
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.''
The teams are likely to include Green Berets, U.S. Army commandos who specialize in advising foreign troops. Special forces on the ground can also find hidden targets for U.S. airstrikes.
The Pentagon said Sunday that U.S. bombing over the weekend focused on targets close to four key cities near the Taliban front lines with northern alliance rebels: Bagram, Taloqan, Konduz, and Mazar-e-Sharif.
The northern alliance claims to have launched a major offensive near Mazar-e-Sharif. Capture of that city by anti-Taliban forces would open a major supply route from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
U.S. bombs also targeted caves and tunnels suspected as Taliban and al-Qaida hideouts.
In Pakistan, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that four weeks of U.S. bombing have weakened the Taliban's ability to operate as a government.
The Taliban are ''using their power in enclaves throughout the country to impose their will on the Afghan people,'' but are not making ''major military moves,'' Rumsfeld said. ''The Taliban (are) not really functioning as a government.''
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.
Members of Congress said it is too early to tell how long the war will last or whether more ground troops will be needed.
''I think our enemies, the more they're convinced that we're in this for the long haul, the shorter this thing'' may last, said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on ''Fox News Sunday.''
Added Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman: ''It may very well be that as things move on,'' administration officials ''have to insert, or at least contemplate, a larger infusion of ground forces.''
Joining Biden on CBS' ''Face the Nation,'' Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said, ''I don't see where you're going to put a half a million men on the ground like we did in Vietnam or any of the large-scale efforts.''
In other developments:
n A Washington spokesperson for the northern alliance, Haron Amin, said preparations are under way for a multipronged attack on various fronts in the north of Afghanistan.
n Myers said ''there's a lot of planning going on right now'' concerning possible nuclear and biological threats from terrorists, including threats posed by Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
n A helicopter that crashed in bad weather Friday night in Afghanistan while attempting to rescue a sick soldier was identified as an MH-53, probably an Air Force ''Pave Low'' special forces troop carrier. Four crew members aboard the downed craft were injured, none critically, but were taken out by a second helicopter on the mission.
F-14 Tomcats from the USS Theodore Roosevelt destroyed the downed helicopter to prevent its wreckage from falling into enemy hands. On Saturday, two more helicopters returned to rescue the ill special forces operative and succeeded in flying him out.
n Franks and Myers took issue with a report in The New Yorker that 12 members of the Army's super-secret Delta Force special operations unit were injured -- three seriously -- in a raid Oct. 20 of a house used by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.
The magazine said 100 soldiers in the raid faced more resistance from Taliban forces than expected and had to fight their way to safety, according to the magazine.
Myers said that while ''the Taliban probably did return fire'' that overall, ''there was no resistance. The Taliban were in complete disarray.''
''We had a bunch of these young people who had scratches and bumps and knocks from rocks ... so it's probably accurate to say that maybe five or maybe 25 people were 'wounded,''' Franks said. ''We had no one wounded by enemy fire and I think that is probably worthwhile noting.''
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