Two senior military officers from the shadowy world of Special Operations are playing a large and previously unreported role in shaping the Obama administration's Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy, a move that underscores that the internal debate has moved past a rigid choice between expansive missions to provide security for Afghan civilians and narrowly tailored missions to find and kill terrorists.
Navy Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) at Ft. Bragg, N.C., and Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, the deputy leader of the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., are attending and informing the strategy meetings that the White House began in September to refine its approach in Afghanistan. Both men have deep ties to Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in the war. They are said to favor large infusions of U.S. troops to Afghanistan for performing counterinsurgency operations in select population centers, but they also advocate marshalling forces to pursue terrorists across Afghanistan's rugged, mountainous terrain — a task in which McRaven plays a key role.
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