The C.I.A. is expanding its covert operations in Afghanistan, sending small teams of highly experienced officers and contractors alongside Afghan forces to hunt and kill Taliban militants across the country.
According to two senior American officials, the latest sign of the agency’s increasingly integral role in President Trump’s counterterrorism strategy.
According to New York Times, the assignment marks a shift for the C.I.A. in the country, where it had primarily been focused on defeating Al Qaeda and helping the Afghan intelligence service.
Former agency officials assert that the military, with its vast resources and manpower, is better suited to conducting large-scale counterinsurgencies.
The expansion reflects the C.I.A.’s assertive role under its new director, Mike Pompeo, to combat insurgents around the world.
“We can’t perform our mission if we’re not aggressive,” Mr. Pompeo said at a security conference this month at the University of Texas. “This is unforgiving, relentless. You pick the word. Every minute, we have to be focused on crushing our enemies.”
The new effort will be led by small units known as counterterrorism pursuit teams.
The change also comes during an increase in violence in Afghanistan in recent months. Attacks on security forces and the police, including at least three last week, have taken a heavy toll. A record number of civilians, 1,662, were killed in the first half of the year, and another 3,581 were wounded, according to the United Nations.