America's CIA is running a 3,000-strong covert army to hunt down key leaders of Taliban and al-Qaeda in not only Afghanistan but across the border in Pakistan.
This heavily-armed irregular force manned entirely by Afghan personnel operates in small units called Counter-terrorism Pursuit Teams, the New York Times reported on Thursday quoting extracts from a new book 'Obama's wars' by journalist Bob Woodward.
The stunning disclosures in the book which is making waves for laying bare the policy divisions and the personality clashes among the Obama advisors on the Afghan policy may complicate relations between Washington and Islamabad, the paper said.
"Firing missiles from unmanned drones patrolling over Pakistan's turbulent northwest tribal region at a rate that has outstripped the Bush administration's record is bad enough and now to have brigade size paramilitary units operating inside Pakistan marks a significant expansion of the covert war that the Obama administration has waged there," the book claims.
These forces, the paper said, conducted clandestine raids into Pakistan as part of stepped-up campaign against al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban havens there.
The CIA directs and funds the force, which is being billed as the best Afghan fighting force, which has made major contributions to stability and security, the book claims.
"The covert army captures and kills Taliban fighters and seeks support in Tribal areas," the NYT reported and quoted Pentagon officials as saying that these Afghan units were closely working with American Green Berets to go after Taiban fighters.
According to the Woodward's book, by the end of 2009 strategy review, the President had concluded that the task in Afghanistan could not succeed without wiping out al-Qaeda and Afghan Taliban havens operating with impunity in the border tribal areas of Pakistan.
The book says that Obama has remarked, "We need to make clear to the people that the cancer is in Pakistan", so the CIA had turned into its classic old strategy of setting up of a lethal proxy unit.
The book says that such "kill teams" were also operating within Afghanistan to target groups like Haqqani network, closely linked to Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The members of these hot pursuit units have been probably recruited from the private militias of warlords.