America’s elite special operations forces are getting new marching orders as the Pentagon moves away from its post-9/11 focus on radical terrorist groups and trains its eye on big-power rivals such as China and Russia.

In a major shift of mission, officials at U.S. Special Operations Command are drafting new guidance to reorient its cadre of top-tier military units to fight the expanding armies and navies of what U.S. strategists call “near-peer” powers.

Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images

Under the guidance, which is still pending approval by command chief Gen. Raymond A. Thomas III, U.S. special operations fighters will be taking a larger role in cyberwarfare, information and “influence” — digital age propaganda — operations, sources say, as well as training allies in the new skills.

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