"The Bush administration," reports the Chicago Tribune, "is preparing a U.S. military offensive that would reach inside Pakistan with the goal of destroying Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network."
U.S. Central Command is assembling a team of military intelligence officers that would be posted in Pakistan ahead of the operation, according to sources familiar with details of the plan and internal military communications. The sources spoke on the condition they not be identified.As now envisioned, the offensive would involve Special Operations forces, Army Rangers and Army ground troops, sources said. A Navy aircraft carrier would be deployed in the Arabian Sea.Referred to in internal Pentagon messages as the "spring offensive," the operation would be driven by certain undisclosed events in Pakistan and across the region, sources said. A source familiar with details of the plan said this is "not like a contingency plan for North Korea, something that sits on a shelf. This planning is like planning for Iraq. They want this plan to be executable, now."