For U.S. and British soldiers in Afghanistan, long days are spent in complex and dangerous situations. Soldiers trained to fight take on snipers and Taliban extremists who hide bombs in the roads, but also trying to build trust and order in remote villages that have no history of what Americans would consider "normal governance."
In this video, journalist Vaughan Smith, who was embedded with a platoon from the British Grenadier Guards, shows the gritty reality of the first phase of Operation Moshtarak, now under way in Helmand Province.
The British unit was in the Nad-e-Ali district, their job, to clear and hold territory near their base, take control of the town of Kushal Kalay, and then turn it over to Afghan leadership.
"They use [murder holes] against us, and we have found it is a good way for us to use them against them, too." - British soldier in Afghanistan
"We got two kills, including I would say a sharpshooter. It shows the local nationals that we have got freedom to move. And, more importantly, it shows the insurgents that they can't ever take anything for granted." - Captain Jim Young
"It is exhilarating, truly exhilarating. It is a high price. If you get it wrong, and if you are caught up, and if turn into being the hunted, then it can be pretty frightening." - Lt. Col. Roland Walker
"I know there are Talibans sitting here among you, but you won't say what you think. We will show you, within six months, what we can do for you. These people, the Taliban, they spend 18 months here. But I can't see a single brick they have laid for you." - British soldier
"This is the beginning of governance being reasserted into this area. And that's what this is about. As much as I would like to think it's a straightforward military operation, it's about the governor getting to his people." - Lt. Col. Roland Walker
1. Try to imagine a day for a soldier in Afghanistan. What do they do all day? What are their biggest challenges? What might bring them satisfaction?
2. Who are the Taliban in Afghanistan? What do they want?
1. What are these soldiers trying to do?
2. How did this video affect your opinion of the war in Afghanistan?
3. Do you think this military operation will be successful in helping bring law and order to the town of Kushal Kalay?
4. How do you think the soldiers feel about their orders and their presence in Afghanistan?