London, Aug.19 : Britain's special forces are to play a key role in a newly planned "surge" against Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
According to The Independent, SAS and SBS troops are to be used to expand the Army's "decapitation" strategy, while working alongside US Marines against the Taliban leadership.
The operation will coincide with an increase in troop numbers in the country.
American forces are expected to expand by a third while the numbers of British troops will also rise as more forces are pulled out of Iraq.
The plans reflect deep unease in Washington and London at the political turmoil in Pakistan under its fractured four-month-old civilian government, which could now deepen with the power struggle expected to follow the resignation of the President, Pervez Musharraf.
According to senior defence sources, all the intelligence and analysis points to a further "implosion of security" in Pakistan, allowing Islamist groups to use the frontier area to step up attacks into Afghanistan.
The "decapitation" strategy is aimed at destroying the Taliban leadership after NATO commanders realized that killed or captured foot soldiers were being replaced by indoctrinated "fighters" from madrasas in Pakistan.
The urgent need for a fresh strategy, being worked out in meetings between American, British and other NATO commanders, is an acknowledgement that, seven years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is now highly dangerous, with a rise in roadside and suicide bombings.
The Pentagon has also drawn up plans to double the size of the Afghan army to 120,000 and arm them at a cost of 20 billion dollars over five years.
They will not be ready for combat in large numbers until next year, making it vital to have Western reinforcements in the short term.
The Americans, with 34,000 troops in the country, are expected to send two more combat brigades, about 12,000 troops, early next year. The UK force in Iraq, about 4,200, is likely to be cut to about 2,000 by the end of the year and some, including Special Forces, may be sent to Afghanistan.