Washington: Even after the departure of US
troops from Afghanistan, CIA is expected to maintain a large
presence as part of America`s plan to rely on a combination of
spies and Special Forces to protect its interest including
tracking down al Qaeda remnants in Pakistan.
CIA`s stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain
the agency`s largest overseas outposts for years, even if they
shrink from record staffing levels set at the height of
American efforts in those nations to fend off insurgencies and
install capable governments, The Washington Post reported
quoting unnamed US officials.
It said that the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq in
December has moved the spy agency`s emphasis there towards a
more traditional espionage “monitoring developments in the
increasingly antagonistic government, seeking to suppress
al Qaeda`s affiliate in the country and countering the
influence of Iran".
In Afghanistan, the CIA is expected to have a more
aggressively operational role.
"US officials said the agency`s paramilitary capabilities
are seen as tools for keeping the Taliban off balance,
protecting the government in Kabul and preserving access to
Afghan airstrips that enable armed CIA drones to hunt al-Qaeda
remnants in Pakistan," the daily said.
It said that as President Barack Obama seeks to end a
decade of large-scale conflict, the emerging assignments for
the CIA suggest it will play a significant part in the
administration`s search for ways to exert US power in more
streamlined and surgical ways.
As a result, the CIA station in Kabul is expected to
expand its collaboration with Special Operations forces when
the drawdown of conventional troops begins.
Navy Admiral William McRaven, the Special Operations
commander who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden
last year, signaled the transition during remarks yesterday in
Washington, the daily said.
"I have no doubt that Special Operations will be the last
to leave Afghanistan," McRaven was quoted as saying.