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.
The commander, Admiral Eric T. Olson, was in Pakistan on Thursday to meet the new leader of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps paramilitary force, Major General Tariq Khan, and observe a new programme forPakistani 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. 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-Qaida and the Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The bulk of Olson’s time will be spent conferring in Afghanistan with senior US Special Operations officers from across the country, as well as with the senior US commander, General David D. McKiernan, who has said he needs 15,000 combat and support troops beyond the 8,000 troops that President Bush recently approved for deployment early next year.