WASHINGTON — The commander of the United States’ Special Operations forces is meeting this week with the senior American commander in Afghanistan, as well as top Special Operations officers there, to assess the mission in Afghanistan, senior military officials said Thursday.
Read: An American military outpost in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, has been frequently attacked by insurgents in recent weeks. Photo: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
The commander, Adm. Eric T. Olson, was in Pakistan on Thursday to meet the new leader of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps paramilitary force, Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, and to observe a new American-led training program for the Pakistani corps.
Over the next several months, about two dozen American and British military trainers will instruct Pakistani officers at a base in Abbottabad, north of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. The Pakistani officers will in turn train Frontier Corps soldiers next year, in what both countries say is a crucial step in building an effective indigenous force to combat fighters from Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan’s unruly tribal areas.
But the bulk of Admiral Olson’s time in the region will be spent conferring in Afghanistan with senior American Special Operations officers from across the country, as well as with the senior American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, on Friday.
General McKiernan has said that he needs as many as 15,000 combat and support troops beyond the 8,000 troops that President Bush recently approved for deployment early next year. The general is also conducting his own assessment of operations in Afghanistan.
His findings, along with other assessments from the Pentagon and the State Department, will be combined into a comprehensive White House review of Afghanistan policy that is to be completed next month after the presidential election, administration officials said Thursday.
Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon spokesman, said officials from across the government, including the intelligence agencies, were working to ensure that “we are on the proper footing as we hand off the baton to the next administration.”