The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has started closing down its bases in Afghanistan, in the wake of US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, The Washington Post reported.
The war on terror has transformed CIA from an intelligence agency to a counter terrorism force with its own prison holding facilities, paramilitary teams and predator drones.
The withdrawal represents a turning point for the agency, as CIA would be able to shift its resources to other more troubled region. US plan to reduce the CIA installation in Afghanistan to as few as six over the period of next two years.
According to senior US officials, the reductions are overdue as the threats posed by the al Qaeda in the region have diminished.
The priorities for the CIA have shifted from Al Qaeda based threats to monitoring developments in the Middle East. Recently, the CIA director John O. Brennan has also expressed a desire to shift the agency’s focus back on the traditional espionage.
“When we look at post-2014, how does the threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan measure against the threat in North Africa and Yemen?” said a senior administration official who spoke on
the condition of anonymity to discuss government deliberations. “Shouldn’t our resources reflect that?”
According to the US officials the CIA is expected to maintain a footprint in the region even after the withdrawal, with a station in Kabul, as well as fleet of armed drones that will continue to patrol the Pak-Afghan border.
The withdrawal of the CIA depends on how many troops President Obama decides to keep in Afghanistan. Troops are expected to be reduce to as low as 10,000. Recently US administration has signaled that it is also considering a “zero option”.
A full withdrawal of US troops would probably trigger a deeper retrenchment by the CIA, which has relied on US and allied military installations across the country to serve as bases for agency operatives and cover for their spying operations.
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