According to a report on October 22nd in the New York Times, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is set to accelerate its operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan, breaking with its approach over the last 15-plus years of primarily directing the bulk of its efforts in targeting al-Qaeda, its leadership, and only the senior-most Taliban leaders.

This new approach is reportedly being pushed by CIA Director Michael Pompeo, an appointee of President Donald J. Trump, in keeping with the aggressive language President Trump has so far employed against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.  Despite a top-down push, however, it does not appear from the New York Times’ report that the new strategy is facing major pushback from the rank-and-file within the agency.

This author would surmise that many officials at the CIA likely support this new approach, although I cannot verify that claim.  Some at the agency, however, might find it counterproductive and ultimately futile.  After all, it will require more manpower and resources, and the record of great powers trying to crush local insurgencies across the globe is a spotty one at best.  Nevertheless, it appears that the CIA is going to give it a go, and bring the hammer down on the Taliban.

For the benefit of those of out there who might be unclear about what this change in CIA strategy really means, what follows is an unclassified breakdown.  Since September 11, 2001, the CIA’s Directorate of Operations (DO – the CIA’s clandestine operations wing), and more specifically, the Counterterrorism Center (CTC) within the DO, has focused its energies on tracking down al-Qaeda operatives and leaders in Afghanistan and the surrounding region.  In recent years, that focus has also no doubt expanded to include the Islamic State (also called IS, ISIS, or ISIL) in the region.