18 CIA officers killed in Afghanistan War: NYT

18 CIA officers killed in Afghanistan War: NYT

Two CIA operatives were killed in Jalalabad in October last year and a third in December in the same area, but their deaths were never acknowledged by the CIA.

The New York Times this week reported that 18 CIA personnel have been killed in Afghanistan in the past 16 years.

According to the report, Brian Ray Hoke, 42, and Nathaniel Patrick Delemarre, 47, who worked for the CIA’s paramilitary force were killed in a gunfight in October against Daesh militants near Jalalabad in Nangarhar.

A third CIA operative, George A Whitney, 38, died in the same area in December.

The New York Times reported that their deaths were never actually acknowledged by the CIA except for new memorial stars in a marble wall unveiled this summer at the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The report states that there are 18 stars on the wall – representing the number of CIA personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

It also points out that the CIA appears to be moving from traditional espionage to front lines.

This tally has not been previously reported, but rivals the number of CIA operatives killed in the wars in Vietnam and Laos nearly half a century ago.

The deaths are a reflection of the heavy price the agency has paid in a secret, nearly 16-year-old war, where thousands of CIA operatives have served since 2001, the report stated.

According to a former CIA counterterrorism analyst, Ken Stiles: “We are going to be fighting this war (in Afghanistan) for a very long time.”

Since 2001, thousands of CIA officers and contractors have rotated in and out of Afghanistan targeting terrorists and running sources. Operatives from the Special Activities Division have been part of some of the most dangerous missions.

Paramilitary officers from the CIA were the first Americans in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks and the first American killed in the country was Johnny Micheal Spann, a CIA officer. He died in 2001 during a prison uprising.

Since then, CIA paramilitary officers have trained and advised a small army of Afghan militias known as counterterrorism pursuit teams. According to the report, these militias took on a greater importance under former president Barack Obama who preferred covert operations because of their small footprint and deniability.

But these militias and their CIA handlers came under fire many times over the years – often accused of acting outside the law.

The New York Times stated that in 2009, seven CIA employees were killed in a suicide bombing in Khost.

The CIA has however helped build the Afghan intelligence agency – the National Directorate of Security – but were also found to have run a slush fund, exposed in 2013, for former Afghan president Hamid Karzai. This money was dropped off in suitcases and bags and was used to pay off warlords, lawmakers and others, the New York Times reported.