Coming To Kabul

The bombed-out, battered but still functioning airport outside Kabul is the newest base in Afghanistan for American troops. Close to 100 members of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain division were setting up camp Friday at Bagram air base.

And we've been told the U.S. Air Force will be joining this effort Saturday to rapidly increase this build-up.

Capt. Jimmy Cummings explained the plan is to set up a foothold in the area to distribute humanitarian aid.

The U.S. base is just the latest addition to the mix of competing powers on the ground here. One of Afghanistan's homegrown armies, the United Front, now rules this part of the country.

There is an increasingly large Russian presence here involved in setting up an aid station. And Russian special forces are operating in the field. British Royal Marines have been based near Bagram for weeks.

Now U.S. Forces are on the scene and growing.

The United Front is in the middle of it all, running much of the country while at the same time negotiating with other Afghans and the rest of the world. The United Front's foreign minister, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, told me the presence of the new American ground forces just outside this capital city don't bother him as long as they stick to humanitarian relief work.

"If it coincides with humanitarian operations or reconstruction work it will give the right signal," he explains. "Otherwise, I am afraid it will send the wrong signal to the population, which will make life difficult for all of us."

Here, the difficulty is everywhere.

So many buildings are battered. The roadsides are littered with crushed tanks. The roads themselves are collapsing. We drove through a large stream because the bridge here had been bombed out.

On the drive in from the airport to downtown Kabul, bridges have been bombed out, the road is pockmarked, there is so much to be done.

Says Abdullah: "You have seen a little part of our country, a small part of it. But the whole country is in that shape, almost all the country is in that shape."

His intelligence tells him Osama bin Laden is still in Afghanistan. "He's in southern Afghanistan," he says. "He's most probably around Kandahar."


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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