The US intelligence officials are using Viagra to win new Afghan friends who can provide them information about activities of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Recently, a CIA officer used four viagra pills to win over an Afghan chieftain, who looked older than his 60-odd years, and was burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women.
Take one of these. You'll love it, The Washington Times quoted the officer, as saying.
The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes followed by a request for more pills.
For US intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won.
While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country's roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations.
In their efforts to win over notorious warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency's operatives have used a variety of personal services.
These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.
Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people whether it's building a school or handing out Viagra, said one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours.
Officials say these inducements are necessary in Afghanistan, a country where warlords and tribal leaders expect to be paid for their cooperation, and where, for some, switching sides can be as easy as changing tunics.
If the Americans don't offer incentives, there are others who will, including Taliban commanders, drug dealers and even Iranian agents in the region.
The usual bribes of choice cash and weapons aren't always the best options, Afghanistan veterans say. Guns too often fall into the wrong hands, they say, and showy gifts such as money, jewelry and cars tend to draw unwanted attention.