The military would focus on air and missile raids but also could use small teams of US special operations troops currently along the border with Afghanistan, the report said.

Air raids could damage the groups' ability to launch new attacks but also might damage US-Pakistani relations.

The CIA already conducts unmanned drone raids in the country's tribal regions.

Officials told the Washington Post that a US military response would be considered only if attacks persuaded Barack Obama, the US president, that the CIA campaign is ineffective.

A senior US official told the Associated Press news agency on Wednesday that Pakistan already has been told that it has only weeks to show real progress in a crackdown against the Taliban.

The US has put Pakistan "on a clock" to launch a new intelligence and counterterrorist offensive against the group, which the White House alleges was behind the Times Square bombing attempt, according to the official.

US officials also have said the country reserves the right to attack in the tribal areas in pursuit of Osama bin Laden and other targets.