In other words, the goal in Afghanistan is to attack safe havens in Pakistan. And that’s backed up by Spencer Ackerman’s reporting. There will be no movement of troops east, where the Taliban is dug in. Instead, the strategy will be “drones, drones, training Afghans, commando raids, and drones,” to quote Spencer. The mission has shifted to counter-terrorism, only with far more troops that you need for that mission (Sen. Coons didn’t see such a shift, but the refusal to go into the east is the tell). And the special ops forces, the JSOC guys, are being used to selectively take out Taliban to keep them at the negotiating table.
This is why the permanent bases are so important.