Amid Afghan chaos, a CIA mission that will last for years

The new CIA mission will be smaller, a senior intelligence official said. He will no longer have to help protect thousands of soldiers a...

The new CIA mission will be smaller, a senior intelligence official said. He will no longer have to help protect thousands of soldiers and diplomats and instead focus on hunting down terrorist groups that may attack beyond Afghanistan’s borders. But the rapid exit of the United States has devastated the agency’s networks, and spies will most likely have to rebuild them and deal with foreign sources, according to current and former officials.

The United States will also have to deal with troublesome partners like pakistan, whose unparalleled ability to play both sides of a fight has frustrated generations of American leaders.

William J. Burns, the agency’s director, said it was ready to collect intelligence and conduct operations remotely, or “on the horizon,” but told lawmakers in the spring that the ability officers to gather intelligence and react to threats will erode. “It is simply a fact,” said Mr. Burns, who visited Kabul this week for secret talks with the Taliban.

Challenges for the CIA are ahead in Afghanistan, the senior intelligence official admitted, while adding that the agency was not starting from scratch. He had long predicted the collapse of the Afghan government and a victory for the Taliban, and since at least July had warned that they might come earlier than expected.

In the days following the September 11 attacks, CIA officers were the first to meet with fighters from the Afghan militia. The agency went on to achieve success in Afghanistan, ruthlessly hunting and killing Al Qaeda operatives, its main mission in the country after 9/11.

He built a vast network of informants who met with officials from their agency in Afghanistan and then used the information to carry out drone strikes against suspected terrorists. The agency prevented al-Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a base to launch a full-scale attack on the United States, as it did on September 11.

But this chapter came at a cost in both life and reputation. At least 19 people have been killed in Afghanistan – a death toll eclipsed only by the agency’s losses during the Vietnam War. Several paramilitary agents of the agency would later die fighting the Islamic State, sign of the distance from the initial mission. The last CIA agent to die in Afghanistan was an elite former reconnaissance navy, killed in a firefight in May 2019, a grim bookend of the conflict.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Amid Afghan chaos, a CIA mission that will last for years
Amid Afghan chaos, a CIA mission that will last for years
Newsrust - US Top News
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