Extended Interview: Military Turns to Kandahar

BY Larisa Epatko  February 26, 2010 at 9:59 PM EDT

As major military operations wrap up in Marjah, Afghanistan, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ben Hodges of the Southern Region Command in Kandahar talked to Judy Woodruff on Friday’s NewsHour about the military’s shift in focus to the eastern part of the country.

In Marjah in the south, the military coordinated with the country’s different levels of government, letting them provide the leadership, he said, “so that when security forces were brought in, you already had the shuras at the provincial and district level ready to help take control, and also, in fact, to explain to the locals what we were trying to do.”

The military hopes to replicate that model in the next area of focus: the east, to Kandahar, considered “the center of gravity for the Pashtuns,” Hodges continued. “Spiritually, politically, historically, it has always been the most important part of Afghanistan. Certainly, throughout Afghan history, it is the center of gravity. So, we are going to head to Kandahar in a big way in coming months.”

View an extended version of Hodges’ interview with Woodruff: