Top Pentagon military officers conducted a secret war game this month to evaluate the two primary military options considered under a broad White House review of the Afghan war, The Washington Post reported on Monday. Citing unnamed senior military officials, the newspaper said Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen led the exercise himself.
The game examined the likely outcome of sending 44,000 more troops into the country to conduct a full-scale counterinsurgency effort aimed at building a stable Afghan government that can control most of the country, the report said.
But it also examined adding 10,000 to 15,000 more soldiers and Marines as part of an approach that the military has dubbed "counterterrorism plus," the paper noted.
The Pentagon war game did not formally endorse either course, The Post reported.
Instead, it tried to gauge how Taliban fighters, the Afghan and Pakistani governments and NATO allies might react to either of the scenarios, the paper pointed out.
Mullen has discussed its conclusions with senior White House officials.
One of the exercise's key assumptions was that an increase of 10,000 to 15,000 troops would not in the near future give US commanders the forces they need to take back havens from the Taliban commanders in southern and western Afghanistan, The Post said.
"We were running out the options and trying to understand the implications from many different perspectives, including the enemy and the Afghan people," the paper quotes one senior military official as saying.