High Stakes for U.S. Forces in Kandahar

It's been another deadly day in Afghanistan, where five American service members were killed by roadside bombs. The surge in violence comes as U.S. forces begin a make-or-break campaign to drive the Taliban out of its base in the south. CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports tonight, from Kandahar.

American soldiers are out again on the dangerous streets of the Taliban's hometown - but this time they are on police business.

The long-awaited Kandahar operation is finally under way. The first step is getting the city under control.

The easy part is rebuilding the police stations and teaching the cops how to do their job. The harder part is setting up checkpoints on every main road leading in and out of the city.

General Ben Hodges is here to inspect one of the first checkpoints designed to stop the flow of weapons, drugs and insurgents. What he finds is a traffic jam caused by a truck that lost its brakes and slammed into a blast wall.

The aim is to win the population over, and the traffic accident isn't helping. Each of the 13 roadblocks will be manned by a company of Afghan Police and an equal number of American military police who will live and work together.

Securing Kandahar City is the crucial first step. But just over the mountains are lawless Taliban areas, and they're going there next.

Kandahar may be where the enormous American investment in Afghanistan is finally vindicated or buried.