CIA’s Afghan Forces Leave a Trail of Abuse and Anger by Mujib Mashal – New York Times
The fighters hold the line in the war’s toughest spots, but officials say their brutal tactics are terrorizing the public and undermining the U.S. mission.
… At a time when the conventional Afghan military and police forces are being killed in record numbers across the country, the regional forces overseen by the CIA have managed to hold the line against the most brutal militant groups, including the Haqqani wing of the Taliban and also Islamic State loyalists.
But the units have also operated unconstrained by battlefield rules designed to protect civilians, conducting night raids, torture and killings with near impunity, in a covert campaign that some Afghan and American officials say is undermining the wider American effort to strengthen Afghan institutions.
Those abuses are actively pushing people toward the Taliban, the officials say. And with only a relatively small American troop contingent left — and that perhaps set to drop further on President Trump’s orders — the strike forces are increasingly the way that a large number of rural Afghans experience the American presence.
Many of the strike forces were officially put under the control of Afghan intelligence starting in 2012. But senior Afghan and international officials say that the two most effective and ruthless forces, in Khost and Nangarhar Provinces, are still sponsored mainly by the CIA…