Ten years in Afghanistan: Running the war

Scott Pelley interviews the two men President Obama has charged with running the war in Afghanistan: Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General John Allen. They explain why U.S. soldiers must remain on the ground well beyond 2014

CBS All Access
This video is available on CBS All Access

Pelley: On 9/11?

Crocker: On 9/11, I was one of the last planes to land at LaGuardia. I was stuck in traffic on the Queensboro Bridge when both towers went down. I watched it happen.

Five weeks after it happened, U.S. forces landed here with the goal of defeating two enemies -- al Qaeda and the Taliban government that harbored the terrorists. The U.S. believes there are only about 50 al Qaeda left here -- 50 and we were surprised by Allen's estimate of Taliban fighters.

Allen: It's probably in the -- in the low thousands.

Pelley: Low thousands?

Allen: Yes.

Pelley: Ten thousand? Fewer?

Allen: Again - low - fewer, much fewer.

The U.S. has 98,000 troops here, plus 40,000 from NATO. Around a third of them are combat forces. And you can add to that about 300,000 Afghan troops.

Pelley: Help me understand the order of battle, if there are 400,000 coalition troops and 10,000 Taliban, why can't we mop that up in a week?

Allen: Let's be precise now as well. The ANSF -- the entire ANSF has yet to become operationally committed, which are both the police and the army. And so it requires, you know, a relative large footprint in order for us to dominate and prevent the Taliban fighters from reentering the population.

Pelley: So it's not just a matter of hunting down these 10,000 enemy troops and killing them?

Allen: It's not just a hunter-killer mission that our troops are on. And we do deal with the--with the insurgents. And we deal with them very kinetically when they choose to fight. But they don't choose to fight on a regular basis.

Pelley: And when you say kinetic, that's war college talk for shooting them?

Allen: Well, it's-- it's Marine talk for shootin' 'em as-- as well, frankly.

How can a few thousand Taliban tie up the world's strongest military? We went to find out in the home of the Taliban, Kandahar Province. Here, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 10th Mountain Division is fighting its way into territory no American has occupied. The brigade came in April led by Colonel Patrick Frank.

Pelley: Your casualties so far?

Frank: We have lost in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 28 soldiers.

Pelle: And how many wounded?

Frank: We've had over 300 soldiers wounded.

Colonel Frank showed us how the war has changed. For starters, because of the enemy's preferred weapon, we traveled in the new mine resistant trucks that are such an improvement for the troops.

Pelley: How often do you have contact with the enemy?

Frank: On a given day, 20 - 25 contacts with the enemy.

Now nearly all of Frank's casualties come from mines and roadside bombs. They found 52 of them in this area in just the last three weeks...and destroyed them.

Pelley: They're not standing and fighting you?