"Sunday, March 10, the United States unexpectedly ordered 400 US troops lifted out of the battle area south of Gardez in the Afghan Paktia province. As helicopters carried the troops back to Bagram airbase, a US spokesman announced that the major part of the offensive against the al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold was over and American troops were in the process of repositioning. But, he insisted, the fight was not over yet.
DEBKAfile’s military analysts suspect that this pullout is the first stage of the withdrawal of the bulk of the 1,600 US troop-force fielded for Operation Anaconda, the largest US-led offensive ...

The turn of events in Paktia brings forward the prospect, revived this week, of the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the global war on terror. (This possibility was first disclosed in our intelligence newsletter DEBKA-Net-Weekly in early October 2001, three times in the course of the same month in DEBKAfile and again on November 26, 2001).
This week the Los Angeles Times reported that President Bush had ordered the Pentagon to draw up contingency plans for the use of nuclear weapons and a list of seven nations for targeting: Five - North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria - are either terror sponsors or developers of weapons of mass destruction.

DEBKAfile’s military experts recall in this regard the announcement made by the American deputy secretary of state for disarmament, John Bolton, on February 21 that Washington had decided to depart from its traditional policy of nuclear non-use against non-nuclear powers. The exceptions would be made in the cases of terrorists, their sponsors and states developing weapons of mass destruction. Bolton’s statement was received in Baghdad as a signal that the United States has decided to use nuclear weapons in its coming offensive, and Saddam Hussein regime has made preparation."