Fighters On Afghan Border: A Relentless Enemy

"60 Minutes" And Lara Logan Get An Up-Close Look At Border Combat

If you want to know how the war is going in Afghanistan, there's no better place to go than the tiny American combat outposts all along the border with Pakistan.

The fight there is brutal, the intensity unlike anything we've witnessed in nine years of covering this war.

U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division are locked in a never-ending battle with an enemy that uses the border as an open door. The soldiers say that as fast as they can kill them, they just keep coming across the border from safe havens in Pakistan, trying to kill as many Americans as they can.

"60 Minutes" was given extraordinary access to the men of the 101st who are on the frontline of the border fight, operating from around 50 combat outposts and forward operating bases along a 450-mile stretch of the most dangerous frontier in the world.




60 Minutes Overtime: Lara Logan
Listen as Ann Silvio interviews Lara Logan about the brutal ambush that she and her 60 Minutes team survived in Afghanistan.


Extra: Decorating The Heroes
Extra: The Warrior Diplomat
Extra: The Taliban's Power


Our trip began at Combat Outpost Zerok, just 12 miles from the Pakistani border.

Three minutes after Captain John Hintz started explaining how to stay alive on his base, the first rocket hit.

It was the first hour, of our first day at Combat Outpost Zerok. Capt. Hintz's troops returned fire.

Already, we were getting a taste of what Hintz and his men live through every day. And they've been doing this for seven months. Within ten minutes the barrage was over; it had wounded two of Hintz's men.

Specialist Peter Kuyper's shirt was soaked with blood from wounds to his head.

They're all used to dealing with injuries at the outpost. Forty out of Hintz's 88 soldiers have been awarded Purple Hearts for wounds received in combat.

The 40-year-old commander from Iowa has received three Purple Hearts himself.

"This is a tough fight. And you're in one of the worst places. I mean, even for somebody like you with a rough tour in Iraq under your belt, surviving eight roadside bombs," correspondent Lara Logan remarked.

"I don't even think that's uncommon though. I mean I've gotta be honest, my whole company's that…I've got a kid out there that's got eight purple hearts. He just got shot in the head during a battle," Hintz replied. "He survived and he fought for three more hours. I mean it's just the way these guys are."

Hintz commands one of the most dangerous pieces of ground in Afghanistan: it may look like a desolate patch of dirt in the middle of nowhere, but his tiny base sits right on one of the main routes used by the enemy to ferry fighters and weapons from Pakistan.

"You can never rest out here because you know that they want this spot back. And the foreign fighters are very well trained. They carry better weapon systems. They have much more ammunition. So when you get into a fight with them, you know you're in a fight," Hintz explained.

Asked from where these "foreign fighters" are coming, Hintz told Logan, "Pakistan. We're only about 12/13 miles away from Pakistan. And we know we kill a lotta people here. And these guys - it doesn't matter if you kill 30 that day - or it doesn't seem to matter because they'll be back the next day or the next week."

"With more fighters?" Logan asked.

"Yes," the captain replied.

"Are the men you're facing committed?" Logan asked.

"They're more committed than anything I've ever seen. One day we killed 31 of them. We could see them dying on the hills. I mean, we were engagin' 'em and we were killin' 'em, and they kept charging us," Hintz said.

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