Washington, Feb 5 (ANI): The United States has planned to keep its Special Operations forces, which hunt insurgent leaders and train local troops in Afghanistan, despite its decision to end the NATO mission in the war-torn nation in late 2014.
According to senior Pentagon officials and military officers, under the emerging plan, American conventional forces, focused on policing large parts of Afghanistan, will be the first to leave, while thousands of American Special Operations forces remain, making up an increasing percentage of the troops on the ground, their number may even grow.
The New York Times quoted Pentagon officials and military planners, as saying that the new plan for Afghanistan, which is far different from the withdrawal plan for Iraq, where almost all American forces, conventional or otherwise, have left, is not a direct response to the deteriorating conditions in Iraq.
Senior American officials have also expressed a desire to keep some training and counterterrorism troops in Afghanistan past 2014, the paper said.
According to the report, the plan would put a particularly heavy focus on Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, who would be in charge of training a variety of Afghan security forces.
At the same time, the elite commando teams within Special Operations forces would continue their raids to hunt down, capture or kill insurgent commanders and terrorist leaders and keep pressure on cells of fighters to prevent them from mounting attacks.
According to the paper, the shift could give President Barack Obama a political shield against attacks from his Republican rivals in the presidential race who have already begun criticizing him for moving too swiftly to extract troops from Afghanistan.
The United States currently has about 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 22,000 of them expected to leave by this fall.
No schedule has been set for the pace of withdrawal for the 68,000 American troops who will remain, although some administration officials, according to the paper, are advocating for Obama to order another reduction by the summer of 2013. (ANI)
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