By Greg Miller,
The CIA is expected to maintain a large clandestine presence in Iraq and Afghanistan long after the departure of conventional U.S. troops as part of a plan by the Obama administration to rely on a combination of spies and Special Operations forces to protect U.S. interests in the two longtime war zones, U.S. officials said.
U.S. officials said that the CIA’s stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain the agency’s largest overseas outposts for years, even if they shrink from record staffing levels set at the height of American efforts in those nations to fend off insurgencies and install capable governments.
The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in December has moved the CIA’s emphasis there toward more traditional espionage — monitoring developments in the increasingly antagonistic government, seeking to suppress al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the country and countering the influence of Iran.
In Afghanistan, the CIA is expected to have a more aggressively operational role. U.S. officials said the agency’s paramilitary capabilities are seen as tools for keeping the Taliban off balance, protecting the government in Kabul and preserving access to Afghan airstrips that enable armed CIA drones to hunt al-Qaeda remnants in Pakistan.
As President Obama seeks to end a decade of large-scale conflict, the emerging assignments for the CIA suggest it will play a significant part in the administration’s search for ways to exert U.S. power in more streamlined and surgical ways.
As a result, the CIA station in Kabul — which at one point had responsibility for as many as 1,000 agency employees in Afghanistan — is expected to expand its collaboration with Special Operations forces when the drawdown of conventional troops begins.
Navy Adm. William McRaven, the Special Operations commander who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last year, signaled the transition during remarks Tuesday in Washington. “I have no doubt that Special Operations will be the last to leave Afghanistan,” McRaven said.
The CIA declined to comment. But current and former intelligence officials quibbled with the accuracy of McRaven’s assertion.
“I would say the agency will be the last to leave,” said a CIA veteran with extensive experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “We were the first to get there” after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the former official said.
Force size evolving
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Khamenei: Islamic Revolution source of inspiration for all revolutions – Addressing Iranian Air Force personnel, Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran did not claim the Islamic Awakening in the region was initiated by Iran. However, he stated, “no one can ignore the fact that the waves of Islamic Awakening have been inspired by the victory of Islamic Revolution”. He underlined that the latest developments in the region and the Islamic Awakening proved that the Iranian nation is moving in the right path and that the Islamic Revolution has flourished and is dynamically moving forward towards its goals, 33 years after its victory. Ayatollah Khamenei added that slogans of the Iranian nation have prevailed over the region and the nations following global arrogance have now stood by Iran pursuing the same goals.
Deputy Chief of the General Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Iran holds the key to the fate of the US president and government – Brigadier General Seyyed Mas’ud Jazayeri said that “Many high level strategic experts believe that the key to the American government is in Tehran’s hands. Thus the ridiculous dance of both war-mongering and peace-making of the White House are meaningless… Iran pays no attention to this ludicrous carrot-and-stick policy and instead thinks about its own ideals and aims.” Jazayeri added that Iran pursues its objectives and causes without considering the US carrot and stick policy adding that Washington’s message of peace or war is worthless to Tehran and lacks meaning for policymaking. He said that the US and the Zionist regime (Israel) are not capable of taking military action against Iran because they know how vulnerable they are to Tehran’s retaliatory measures. Moreover, The US government is in such a pathetic situation that even their people hold street protests against the exploitative nature of the country’s governing system and chant slogans in support of the Islamic Republic.