Under the emerging plan, American conventional forces, focused on policing large parts of Afghanistan, will be the first to leave, while thousands of American Special Operations forces remain, making up an increasing percentage of the troops on the ground; their number may even grow.

The evolving strategy is far different from the withdrawal plan for Iraq, where almost all American forces, conventional or otherwise, have left. Iraq has devolved into sectarian violence ever since the withdrawal in December, which threatens to undo the political and security gains there…

The new focus builds on a desire to use the nation’s most elite troops to counter any residual terrorist threat over the coming months as well as to devote the military’s best trainers to the difficult task of preparing Afghan security forces to take over responsibilities in their country.

The plan would put a particularly heavy focus on Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets. They would be in charge of training a variety of Afghan security forces. At the same time, the elite commando teams within Special Operations forces would continue their raids to hunt down, capture or kill insurgent commanders and terrorist leaders and keep pressure on cells of fighters to prevent them from mounting attacks.