In the video above, Seth Doane of CBS, summarizes five weeks spent in southern Afghanistan, where, “the news is so bad, so often.”
Doane spent time in Kandahar with U.S. and Afghan troops, traveling through Taliban territory with the Army’s 10th Mountain “Task Force Spartan,” and embedded with an Army medevac unit dealing with a mass-casualty event, where he described the fear and uncertainty in these missions.
“You don’t know, are you landing in a mine field, are you landing in the middle of a firefight, have these insurgents who have just attacked these Afghan police retreated into the woods,” Doane said. “They know these Medevacs are going to come. They know these Medevacs are unarmed.”
Meanwhile, there was unrest across the country.
– On Friday, two suicide bombers and an ensuing gun battle at the British Council in Kabul killed at least ten people, and a roadside bomb killed 21 passengers travelling on a minibus in Herat in Western Afghanistan on Thursday.
– Earlier in the month, six suicide bombers killed 22 people in an attack at a governor’s security meeting in Parwan, 30 miles north of Kabul. Doane was on the phone with the governor during the attack. “He described to us hearing explosions durign the firefight,” Doane said.
– And on August 5, a Chinook helicopter carrying 30 U.S. soldiers, including 22 Seal Team 6 members, was shot down by Taliban insurgents.
“To fight in this war, you have to be pretty optimistic, because it is hard,” Doane said. “People have given up families, left everyone they love to be in the 110-degree heat, and I believe most of the people I spoke to are there because they believe that’s what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Doane described how how poppy and marijuana fields–which are used to fund the Taliban–grow freely around coalition outposts, and other frustrations. U.S. forces have struggled with the resolve of undisciplined Afghan troops and police. Soldiers at the focus of one story had built a road to undermine Taliban supply lines, but in the process, angered farmers whose land the road plowed through.
“In the effort to get security, how many people are you alienating,” Doane said.
There were some bright spots. Doane described an interview with a female Afghan MP who, in spite of Taliban attacks against her, is determined to see the country succeed.
“There is this passion,” Doane said. “We get caught up in how many dead here and how many dead there and don’t get to see these stories of courage and determination.”
[via CBS World Watch]