CIA, U.S. military at odds over Afghanistan pullback plan
David S. Cloud
Los Angeles Times
May 9, 2014
The CIA has made plans to close its network of secret bases in Afghanistan and pull its personnel back to Kabul this summer, an unexpectedly abrupt withdrawal that the U.S. military fears will deprive it of vital intelligence while thousands of American troops remain in the country, U.S. officials said.
CIA Director John Brennan informed U.S. military commanders in March that his agency would start to shutter Afghan operations outside Kabul, the capital, removing CIA clandestine officers and analysts as well as National Security Agency specialists responsible for intercepting insurgents’ communications, which have been a rich source of daily intelligence, the officials said.
Pentagon officials warn that the CIA drawdown is coming at a time when insurgent attacks normally intensify, after a winter lull. As a result, the plan has strained relations between the agency and military commanders in Kabul, the officials said.
Caption Afghanistan patrol
Scott Olson / Getty Images
The CIA is planning to close its satellite bases in Afghanistan and pull all its personnel back to Kabul by early summer. The U.S. military says it needs the intelligence the CIA provides. Above, Army 1st Lt. Eric Cannon speaks by radio on patrol near a village south of Kabul.
"They are beginning their own retrograde and they kind of sprung it on the military, which is raising concern," said a senior military official, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss classified CIA plans.
Intelligence officials confirmed the drawdown would occur, but said the pace remained uncertain and no final plan had been approved.
They linked the move to the steady pullout of U.S. combat troops from America’s longest war. Soldiers and Marines have provided protection and logistics support for intelligence-gathering outposts, which often are inside U.S. military facilities. Hundreds of those frontline military bases and camps have now closed, although dozens are still operating.