Will U.S. Troops Intensify Taliban Ire?

In August, after killing 10 NATO paratroopers, they paraded in uniforms stripped from the corpses, as is shown in exclusive video obtained by CBS News.
CBS
America wants to double its military presence in Afghanistan over the next 18 months - sending in an extra 20,000 - 30,000 troops. But will they be able to pave the path to peace? CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer examines the situation from Kabul.


It was a cold, wet welcome for the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division arriving in Afghanistan. It is just the first wave, 3,000 strong, of the new U.S. troop buildup there.

Their mission is to stop the Taliban's steady advance into provinces that lie on the very outskirts of the Afghan capital, Kabul, Palmer reports.

Before they head off the base, they test their guns. The new troops have orders to make local people feel secure, so aid projects in the area can go ahead. But they know that's going to draw Taliban attacks.

"If the Taliban and the bad guys want to pick a fight, well then that's what we'll have to do to make sure the people are protected," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Long, of the 10th Mountain Division, 3rd brigade.

The so-called "bad guys" have picked plenty of fights already, and are getting bolder.

In June, the Taliban filmed their own ambush of a convoy in Wardak that killed three U.S. soldiers.

Then in August, after killing 10 NATO paratroopers, they paraded in uniforms stripped from the corpses, as can be seen in exclusive video obtained by CBS News.

Palmer visited the last police checkpoint on the southern city limits of Kabul. It was too dangerous to travel any further. Beyond, the Taliban operate freely, hunting down and killing Afghans employed by the government, aid workers and foreigners.

Sparse police checkpoints in this rugged area are no match for them. They've closed girls' schools in the villages and set up their own Islamic courts.

Dr. Roshanak Wardak is the local Member of Parliament. She says the Taliban's tyranny is bad, but having more U.S. troops around to fight them will be worse.

"They will attack on the Taliban. The Taliban will attack on them. And our security will disturb," she said.

The newly arrived soldiers are bracing for their first battle: to convince Afghan civilians that in this case, more war is the cost of a lasting peace.

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."