US Eyes Switch to Special Ops in Afghanistan

Focus to be on training, special missions, not policing
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2012 6:59 AM CST
US soldiers including US Special Forces servicemen collect gear from a Canadian military CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Kandahar's province of Arghandab Valley on August 11, 2010.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The United States may be wrapping up its combat operations in Afghanistan a year early, but the fight against insurgents and terrorists will continue in the form of US special forces, who are expected to stay in the country well after 2014, reports the New York Times. According to the Pentagon's plan, which has not yet been greenlighted by President Obama, conventional forces would be the first to withdraw from Afghanistan, but thousands of special forces would continue, or perhaps grow, especially Green Berets.

Unlike Iraq, where domestic politics pushed local leaders to shove the US out the door, Hamid Karzai and other Afghan leaders seem to accept the US and NATO presence, at least for counterterrorism and training. The shift in focus is part of a general change in US military strategy away from large military deployments and toward narrower uses of force led by special forces. About 22,000 of the United States' 90,000 forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan this autumn, but no decision has yet been announced about the remaining 68,000 troops.

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