Woodward Book Details Secret Afghan Force

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A new book by Bob Woodward, called Obama's Wars, describes an elite, 3,000-member Afghan paramilitary group created by the CIA that conducts covert operations against Taliban havens on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.


Well, now one more distraction for President Obama: a new book called "Obama's Wars" by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward. Among the revelations in the book is that the CIA has created a 3,000-member covert army. The secret Afghan force hunts down Taliban fighters and has also crossed into Pakistan for operations. NPR's Tom Bowman has that story.

TOM BOWMAN: NPR has confirmed the existence of the secret Afghan unit with two sources. One U.S. official says the Afghan paramilitary force operates in small units called Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams. This is one of the best Afghan fighting forces, the official said, and it's made major contributions to stability and security.

Past news accounts have described the CIA working with militias and other groups to go after al-Qaida. And highly-trained Afghan special forces soldiers already are working closely with American Green Berets to go after Taliban fighters.

What's new here is the supposed work of these secret Afghan teams inside Pakistan, which NPR confirmed with an advisor to the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

The revelation will likely complicate diplomacy with Pakistan. Top U.S. military leaders, principally Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, have worked hard to improve relationships with Pakistani security officials.

It's uncertain what, if any, major contributions these covert Afghan teams have achieved against the Taliban, either in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Even with such teams, the U.S. has had to send 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan because the Taliban has grown in strength.

The challenge of fighting Taliban across the border in Pakistan remains. The American military command in Afghanistan is now pressing for more U.S. drone attacks against Taliban safe havens in Pakistan.

Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington

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