You will not be able to read the cookies until a round trip to and from the client has been made.
A forward takes place, entirely, on the server without involving the browser so the cookies that you set won't actually exist until the browser receives the response and stores them. When the browser makes it's next request, it will include the cookies in the request headers and you will be able to read them by calling request.getCookies.
If you want to work with those variables from within the same request/response cycle, you might want to also bind them to request scope with request.setAttribute. You will then have access to them from all the components in your request/response chain. [ February 14, 2008: Message edited by: Ben Souther ]