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Officials: CIA-led elite force may speed Afghan exit

Plans to keep some special operations troops in Afghanistan past 2014 under the command authority of the CIA are being discussed among Pentagon officials, according to an Associated Press report.

The arrangement would be similar to that employed last year when Navy SEALs under CIA control raided Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, according to current and former U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in the AP report.

The officials said the plans being discussed have not yet been pitched to the White House, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta or to those in Congress who would have to approve such a move.

While White House spokesman George Little, acknowledged that special forces typically work closely with the U.S. intelligence community, he was quoted by the AP Saturday as saying "any suggestion that such a plan exists is simply wrong."

The anonymous sources who spoke to the AP said placing special forces under CIA control would be one way the U.S. military could draw down its presence in Afghanistan because troops working for the CIA would technically be considered spies and not military personnel.

The CIA-led forces, however, would still primarily be involved in targeting militants and training Afghan forces.
 

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