CIA’s plan to retrench in Afghanistan worries U.S. military

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The CIA is planning to close its satellite bases in Afghanistan and pull all its personnel back to Kabul by early 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 shutter operations outside Kabul, removing CIA case officers and analysts as well as National Security Agency specialists responsible for intercepting insurgent phone calls and other communications, a rich source of daily intelligence, the officials said.

Pentagon officials warn that the CIA drawdown after 12 years of war is coming just as insurgent attacks are normally at their peak. As a result, the CIA withdrawal has strained relations between the agency and military commanders in Kabul, the officials said.

“They are beginning their own retrograde and they kind of sprung it on the military, which is raising concern,” a senior military official, using the military term for retreat, said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss classified CIA plans.

Intelligence officials confirmed the drawdown, but said the pace is still uncertain. They linked the CIA move to the steady pullout of U.S. military forces who normally provide protection and logistical support for the network of intelligence-gathering outposts, which often are hidden inside U.S. military bases. Hundreds of those forward operating bases have now closed, although dozens are still operating.

“There is no stomach in the building for going out there on our own,” said a former CIA operator who has spoken to current..

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