US may shift faster to Afghan advisory role

By ROBERT BURNS | November 2, 2011 | 10:25 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior U.S. official says the Obama administration is considering shifting the U.S. military role in Afghanistan from primarily combat to mainly advisory and training duties as early as next year.

If this approach is adopted it would mean a reduction in American combat duties in Afghanistan sooner than the administration had planned. But it would not mean an early end to the war.

The U.S. and its NATO partners agreed a year ago that coalition forces would complete their combat mission by the end of 2014. Advising and training Afghan forces would gradually become a more dominant part of the mission, particularly after the U.S. completes the withdrawal of 33,000 "surge" troops by September 2012.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made.