The planned withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan will most likely disrupt a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) network that was created there more than twenty years ago, CNN has quoted unnamed sources as saying.
One of the sources stressed that intelligence obtained by agents working on the ground is crucial for secret CIA missions, including those related to drone strikes.
"With the right information, [you] can launch an operation to kill someone a thousand miles away within two hours. But if you don't have any information, if you don't have any intelligence, how on earth can you predictably do that?", the insider said.
Another source claimed that the troop withdrawal plan stipulates the removal of "the hundreds of special operations forces [from Afghanistan] not publicly acknowledged by the US government but known to be there".
The sources noted that it remains unclear how or if Washington will replace the intelligence- and counterterrorism-related tools in Afghanistan.
As for the status of CIA paramilitary officers, a final decision is yet to be made even though "the thinking at the moment" is that they will almost surely leave, according to the sources.
The remarks followed CIA Director Bill Burns warning last week that "when the time comes for the US military to withdraw, the US government's ability to collect and act on threats will diminish", something that he said is "simply a fact".
At the same time, the CIA boss pledged that his agency would retain "a suite of capabilities, some of them remaining in place, some of them that we'll generate that can help us to anticipate and contest any rebuilding effort [by al-Qaeda* or ISIS*]".
Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden declared that the US would begin withdrawing its 2,500 troops from Afghanistan on 1 May, with the aim of being completely out by 11 September.
He added that he had consulted with former US President George W. Bush before making his decision on the troop withdrawal.
*al-Qaeda, ISIS (Daesh/ISIL/Islamic State), terrorist groups banned in Russia and an array of other countries