Reporter’s Notebook: Combat Outpost Garda, Afghanistan

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WARDAK, Afghanistan — The most frustrating part of this war is not the fighting. In fact, there isn’t so much of that, besides the roadside bombs and the occasional mortar or rocket attack. The hardest bit is to convince the Afghans — especially the Pashtuns, formerly the main backers of the Taliban regime — that the coalition wants to offer its help, and can protect those that accept it. What usually happens is this: A platoon of U.S. soldiers turns up in a village, inquiring if its inhabitants need anything — jobs, medicine, more security, or even a new bridge […]

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