WASHINGTON — The rapid U.S. buildup in the Afghan war will include more terrorist-hunting forces to chase down militants deemed too extreme to change sides, a top U.S. general revealed on Wednesday.
"There's no question you've got to kill or capture those bad guys that are not reconcilable," Gen. David Petraeus, the chief of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In his first congressional testimony on President Barack Obama's plan to send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, Petraeus also cautioned that the war will be "harder before it gets easier."
He said that in addition to an effort to "reintegrate" Taliban and other insurgents into mainstream Afghan society, there will be a harder push to eliminate the most hardcore extremists.
"In fact, we actually will be increasing our counterterrorist component of the overall strategy," Petraeus said. He provided no details beyond saying that additional "national mission force elements" would be sent to Afghanistan next spring.
He appeared to be referring to classified units such as the Army's Delta Force that specialize in counterterrorism and that have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who now oversees the Afghan war and is to testify today before a House committee, led those units inside Iraq and Afghanistan.