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Special forces key to new AfPak strategy

world Updated: Aug 09, 2011 02:08 IST
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The mission that left 30 American troops, including 22 Navy SEALs, dead on Saturday in Afghanistan was just one of dozens of operations carried out by US Special Operations forces every week in Afghanistan.

The only difference was the disastrous ending.

The ill-fated operation reflected the reality of a unit that regularly targets insurgents whose names and faces are almost completely unknown outside military and intelligence circles.

US Special Operations forces have been a critical component of the war strategy in Afghanistan, executing operations in remote and volatile locations that are often inaccessible to ground troops. In Wardak Province's Tangi Valley, where the crash occurred, US troops had recently withdrawn from the area's sole combat outpost.

Such missions are expected to become important as the US begins withdrawing troops in the coming months and years, leaving Nato without the manpower to conduct the traditional counterinsurgency operations at the heart of the troop surge over the past 18 months.

Senior US military officials said the loss would have little impact on the ability to conduct strikes on senior and mid-level Taliban officials.

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