The CIA's war with Haqqani network
The deaths of seven Central Intelligence Agency operatives at a remote base in the mountains of Afghanistan are a pointed example of the civilian spy agency’s transformation in recent years into a paramilitary organization at the vanguard of America’s far-flung wars.I hope this means we will increase our efforts against the Haqqani Taliban on both sides of the border. Clearly, we will have to do a better job of force protection and screening Afghan allies.
The C.I.A. operatives stationed at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost Province, where Wednesday’s suicide bombing occurred, were responsible for collecting information about militant networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan and plotting missions to kill the networks’ top leaders. In recent months, American officials said, C.I.A. officers at the base had begun an aggressive campaign against a radical group run by Sirajuddin Haqqani, which has claimed responsibility for the deaths of dozens of American troops.
Even as the C.I.A. expands its role in Afghanistan, it is also playing a greater role in quasi-military operations elsewhere, using drone aircraft to launch a steady barrage of missile strikes in Pakistan and sending more operatives to Yemen to assist local officials in their attempts to roll back Al Qaeda’s momentum in that country.
Over the past year, the C.I.A. has built up an archipelago of firebases in southern and eastern Afghanistan, moving agency operatives out of the embassy in Kabul and closer to their targets.
But the push to the front lines carries great risk.
Forward Operating Base Chapman sits in an isolated spot several miles from the town of Khost, but not far from Camp Salerno, a larger base used by Special Operations troops.
American officials said that the C.I.A. base had been a focal point for counterterrorism operations against the Haqqani network, a particularly lethal militant group that operates on both sides of the Afghan border.
“Those guys have recently been on a big Haqqani binge,” said the Pentagon consultant. “I would be really shocked if the bombing on Wednesday wasn’t some kind of retaliation.”
Right now the Haqqanis' are the main enemy we face in Afghanistan. They use their sanctuary in Pakistan to launch attacks in much of the country. Unfortunately, the Pakistanis have not been motivated to move against them as they have the Mehsud tribe. That needs to change.
Bill Roggio reports that four asspciated with the Haqqani network were killed with Hellfire missiles in the North Waziristan part of Pakistan yesterday. It was probably not a decapitation strike, but it should probably further degrade the network. It also showed the Haqqanis that the war goes on.