CIA Falls Back in Afghanistan

Afghanistan Obama and the World

KABUL, Afghanistan—The CIA is dismantling its frontline Afghan counterterrorist forces in south and east Afghanistan leaving a security vacuum that U.S. commanders fear the Taliban and al-Qaeda will fill—and leaving the Pakistan border open to a possible deluge of fighters and weapons.

"The CIA has started to end the contracts of some of those militias who were working for them," said Aimal Faizi, spokesman for outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a longtime critic of the CIA's Afghan operatives. "Some of them were in very important locations, so we deployed our troops there."U.S. and Afghan military commanders tell The Daily Beast that Afghan forces are stretched too thin to replace many of those departing CIA paramilitaries. Thousands more CIA-trained operatives are about to get the boot ahead of what already promises to be a bloody summer fighting season. That could mean spectacular attacks against U.S. and Afghan targets just as the White House is weighing its long-term commitment to Afghanistan. And it could give the now-small al-Qaeda movement inside the country more freedom to grow and eventually hatch new plots more than a decade after the invasion meant to wipe out the perpetrators of the Sept. 11th attacks. Senior U.S. officials said the slow dismantling of the CIA's forces has also alarmed U.S. lawmakers, who had assumed those forces would remain in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban after U.S. troops withdrew. But CIA officials told lawmakers this past week that with U.S. troops slowly closing bases across the country, the intelligence agency's footprint also has to shrink. The CIA doesn't want to face another high-risk situation like Benghazi, Libya, where militants attacked both the U.S. diplomatic outpost and the CIA base. The U.S. ambassador, one of his staff and two CIA employees were killed in that strike. The Obama administration had wanted to leave up to 10,000 U.S. troops in the country after the December 2014 withdrawal deadline. But the current Afghan..