Shift in the Focus of US Intelligence Reveals Change in Afghanistan War Goals

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Context

A year ago, US military intelligence officials were striving to gather and examine the tribal, economic and social details of every hamlet and valley in Afghanistan- the information they believed could help commanders differentiate between the good and the bad, find out what Afghans want from their government and win the people’s hearts and minds by undermining the Taliban-led insurgency. However, high-ranking intelligence leaders have shifted back their focus to targeting the extremists in a more traditional manner since last fall, though they didn’t stop gathering other data. The aim is to bring the enemy to the negotiation table. With Obama’s recent announcement of a phased troop withdrawal, the US is expected to focus more on military operations than governance issues, three serving officials in Afghanistan said.

In the aftermath of the elimination of Osama bin Laden, the shift is likely to put more pressure on Pakistan to help target high value targets hiding in the country.