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Washington Post: War In Afghanistan Shifting to Special Forces - 2002-07-07


A published report in the United States says the U-S combat mission in Afghanistan is nearly complete, and military officials intend to use special-forces teams, rather than conventional combat troops, to carry out future operations.

The Washington Post (newspaper) in today's (Sunday's) edition quotes unidentified U-S military officials as saying the campaign against terrorist networks in Afghanistan will switch to using small teams of special-operations troops who will work with Afghan fighters and C-I-A operatives.

The newspaper says these teams will focus on smaller-scale efforts to track down Taliban leaders in Afghanistan and al-Qaida fighters who have fled across the border into Pakistan.

According to the report, these tactics will resemble those used late last year, when U-S troops spotted targets for air raids and worked alongside anti-Taleban Northern Alliance fighters.

The Post quotes an unnamed U-S official as saying the combat in Afghanistan is "now primarily a war in the shadows."

According to the report, seven thousand U-S soldiers now deployed in Afghanistan are likely to play less a purely military role, remaining in the country to deter challenges to the Karzai government as well as the international security force deployed in Kabul.

U-S officials are quoted as saying conventional troops could again take a central role, if the new government in Kabul is not able to establish its hold in Afghanistan.

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