The Central Intelligence Agency will begin slowly dismantling its paramilitary forces in Afghanistan, as the U.S. military begins its withdrawal from the country, The Daily Beast reported Monday.
The CIA began recruiting and training the top-secret forces ahead of the U.S. invasion into the country in 2001, and has used the fighters to help patrol some of the most dangerous Taliban-controlled areas in the war-torn country.
But without U.S. military support, the CIA is looking to wind down its presence, fearing it could not properly provide logistical and security support.
According to the report, 750 members of the Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams in the Kunar region and the entire 3,500 Khost Protection Force will not have their contracts with the CIA renewed.
Khost and Kunar are home to some of al Qaeda’s top leaders, and there is some concern the loss of the CIA-trained and paid forces could allow Taliban forces to overrun areas of strategic importance.
A spokesman for outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai confirmed the CIA wind-down to The Daily Beast, although CIA officials declined to comment on the record.
President Obama spoke with Karzai over the weekend to express his condolences over a massive mudslide last week that killed an estimated 2,000 people. Obama also “reaffirmed that the United States supports a sovereign, stable, unified, and democratic Afghanistan,” according to the White House.