Byline: Tim Ross
The allied strikes are the first phase of a campaign that shows the growing importance of 'psychological warfare', according to a military expert.
Nick Cook, of Jane's Defence Weekly, said he believed the initial attacks were aimed at delivering 'a strong hammer blow' to the Taliban's military and political infrastructure - their command and control centres, air bases and air defence sites.
These strikes show the increased reliance on a kind of psychological warfare, with strict management of information related to the attacks by the allies.
About 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles, which have a range of 1,000 miles and travel at 500mph, were launched from US and British vessels.
Mr Cook said last night's missile strikes amounted to 'a traditional softening up' of Afghanistan's defences.
'Once the airspace is deemed to be relatively secure, they send in combat aircraft, which have a much more flexible targeting approach and could respond to movement on the ground.'
The attacks illustrated 'the influence of the information warriors', Mr Cook said.
'As deployed by the US Air Force, these people are attached to strike planners and part of their remit is to attach psychological significance to the attacking of targets,' he said.
These psychological operations' officers aim to minimise 'collateral damage' to schools and hospitals and any other targets that could undermine support for action internationally and among the public at home. …