Plan to increase elite troops' role in Afghanistan
February 6th, 2012
10:29 AM ET

Plan to increase elite troops' role in Afghanistan

By Barbara Starr

The Obama Administration is considering escalating the role of U.S. Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan between now and 2014, a senior administration official confirms to CNN.

The plan would be to have those forces increasingly take on a combat role and hunt key terrorists, as conventional forces wind down combat and focus more on training Afghans.

(Read also:  Special Ops burden of success)

"This is just in the idea stage," the official said. "No decisions have been made." He declined to be identified because the plan has not been approved.  No decisions have been made on the number of troops involved.

But the official confirmed that what is being considered is a new, high-level military command in Afghanistan specifically for special operations forces.  If approved, the likely commander would be Major Gen. Tony Thomas, currently the deputy commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees military counter terrorism operations. The developments were first reported in the New York Times.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week said conventional forces would begin wrapping up their combat operations by the middle of next year.  Vice President Joe Biden has been a long time advocate of focusing on counter terrorism operations and training Afghan forces as an alternative to the massive ground force presence that has been needed to carry out the current counterinsurgency strategy.

It is expected many of the details will be worked out in the coming weeks so an announcement can be made around the NATO heads of state summit in Chicago later this year.

soundoff (15 Responses)
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  13. 4commonsensenow

    I was talking to some of my legion friends about these tours in Afganatain. They said the biggest problem over there on these tours was road side bombs. Clear them, go up the road, and on the return, they are back again. Seemed like more hassle just getting anywhere than getting a mission completed. So to me, special ops is the way to go if your actually hunting down a list. Why just be target practice.

    February 7, 2012 at 7:42 am | Reply
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    February 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  15. mipolitic

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    February 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Reply

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