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WASHINGTON — Senior White House advisers have proposed secretly expanding the C.I.A.’s presence in Afghanistan if international forces begin to withdraw from the country, according to American officials. But C.I.A. and military officials have expressed reservations, prompting a debate in the administration that could complicate negotiations with the Taliban to end the war.
Some administration officials want C.I.A.-backed militia forces in Afghanistan to serve as part of a counterterrorism force that would prevent the resurgence of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda as American military troops prepare to leave — in effect, an insurance policy.
But others are skeptical that the shadowy militias, many of which face accusations of brutality, can serve as a bulwark against terrorism without the support of the American military.
The C.I.A. director, Gina Haspel, has raised logistical concerns about the plan with other administration officials, emphasizing that the agency operatives — who marshal the militias to hunt Taliban, Qaeda and Islamic State militants — largely depend on the military for airstrikes, overhead surveillance, medical support and bomb technicians.
Skeptics have also noted that American intelligence agencies do not believe the Islamic State’s presence in Afghanistan justifies a vast increase in resources given limited budgets. The Islamic State’s affiliate there is not an immediate threat to the West, despite its regular attacks on Afghan civilians and continuing fight with the Taliban, according to intelligence officials.
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