The Obama administration is exploring a shift in the military’s mission in Afghanistan to an advisory role as soon as next year, senior officials told The Wall Street Journal, a move that would scale back U.S. combat duties well ahead of their scheduled conclusion at the end of 2014.

Such a move would have broad implications for the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. It could begin a phase-out of the current troop-intensive approach, which focuses on protecting the Afghan population, in favor of a greater focus on targeted counterterrorism operations, as well as training the Afghan military.

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