CIA scales back Afghan bases - report

2013-07-24 22:41

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Washington - The Central Intelligence Agency has started scaling back its presence in Afghanistan, closing secret bases as US troops withdraw from the country, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed officials.

The move marks a shift for the spy agency as it turns its attention to other regions and gets back to more traditional intelligence gathering after a decade marked by paramilitary operations, US officials told the Post.

The closures were part of two-year plan to cut the number of CIA facilities in Afghanistan from 12 to as few as six, the paper reported.

At the same time, the bulk of a US military contingent of more than 60 000 troops is due to pull out by the end of 2014, with a possible smaller force of about 10 000 to remain on the ground.

The CIA declined to comment to AFP on the report.

US administration officials had concluded the size of the intelligence mission in Afghanistan was out of proportion to the dangers posed by al-Qaeda, whose core leadership has been weakened and dispersed in neighbouring Pakistan.

"When we look at post-2014, how does the threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan measure against the threat in North Africa and Yemen?" an unnamed administration official was quoted as saying.

"Shouldn't our resources reflect that?"

The CIA was still expected to retain a large office in Kabul - among the agency's largest in the world - and to keep flying a fleet of armed drones to track militants in Pakistan's tribal belt, the paper reported.

The CIA's Predator and Reaper drones are flown out of an airfield near the Pakistan border in Jalalabad.

The Central Intelligence Agency, which once armed Afghans fighting Soviet forces in the 1980s, has deep ties to Afghanistan's spy services and to President Hamid Karzai, who has publicly admitted to accepting bags of cash from US intelligence officers.

Read more on:    cia  |  afghanistan

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