An Inside Look at Elite Special Forces

A group of Green Berets are on a night mission to take out several high-value Taliban leaders, every minute bringing them closer to their target.

The shooting starts before they even land. The soldiers touching down in hostile territory - gunfire lights up the night sky, reports CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan.

But the operation is swift and decisive. The Special Forces soldiers secure the area and eliminate their targets.

This operation has the feel of Afghanistan and the terrain is strikingly similar. But it is not on Afghan soil - it's thousands of miles away in the middle of the Utah desert on a special forces training mission.

The enemy here is a paper target. But these soldiers know from experience that the targets and the dangers they'll face in Afghanistan are very real.

That's why they've chosen the remote mountains at the Dugway Proving Ground for their training. This military facility is the size of Rhode Island and the closest you can get inside the U.S. to the conditions these soldiers face in Afghanistan. CBS News can't identify any of them for security reasons.

They execute mock assaults on enemy compounds, and work through an interpreter to treat Afghan civilians - practicing the strategy to win over the people.

We spoke to a team member who has served in Afghanistan before.

"It's a pretty good mock up of what we can expect in Afghanistan," he said.

It needs to be. The soldiers told CBS News the enemy they now face eight years into the war is one who knows American tactics, and has adapted to stay two steps ahead.

When these soldiers are not training, they're deployed. The operation tempo for Special Forces is relentless, and the demand for these elite soldiers is growing.

Their skills are rare. CBS News watched as they practiced parachuting from more than 10,000 feet in the dead of night. A high-altitude jump designed to bring them unseen and unheard onto a target. They can be dropped miles away then drift silently through the black sky, reaching their targets undetected.

Elite soldiers - at the tip of the spear in President Obama's new strategy for the Afghanistan war.

  • Lara Logan

    Lara Logan's bold, award-winning reporting from war zones has earned her a prominent spot among the world's best foreign correspondents. Logan began contributing to 60 Minutes in 2005.