Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NPR Confirms 3,000 Man CIA Army Conducts Operations In Pakistan


As Mark laid out earlier and earlier than that, there's a lot to pick over in Bob Woodward's new book, Obama's Wars. But while most of the article's describing it (NPR doesn't have a copy yet, or at least I haven't seen one) concentrate on the internal battles among the administration, the part that set off alarm bells for me was this paragraph from the Washington Post piece:

The CIA created, controls and pays for a clandestine 3,000-man paramilitary army of local Afghans, known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams. Woodward describes these teams as elite, well-trained units that conduct highly sensitive covert operations into Pakistan as part of a stepped-up campaign against al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban havens there. (emphasis added)

Now it's been fairly obvious that the Pakistani government is either unwilling or unable to curb the flow of militants from Pakistan into Afghanistan, but this was news to me.

So I wandered over to my old shop at NPR, National Security, and after batting it around for a bit on what they've found out, here's what we've we can say at this point:

When NPR asked a US official familiar with operations in Afghanistan he confirmed the existence of these "Counter-terrorism Pursuit Teams" and said:

"This is one of the best Afghan fighting forces and it's made major contributions to stability and security."

Separately, an advisor to the US military also confirmed the existence of such a paramilitary force and that they were conducting some missions across the border in Pakistan.

Just to be clear, that's two different people speaking on condition of anonymity.

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