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This year has been the most violent in Afghanistan since the Taliban fell, with more than 130 suicide bombings and more than 2,600 dead. U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, discusses efforts to combat Taliban fighters.
Afghanistan, once an American success story, is anything but that for now.
Just this year's statistics tell the story: more than 130 suicide bombings, a tactic unheard of just a few years ago; more than 2,600 dead, the most violent year since the Taliban fell and more than 50 percent higher than the same time last year; and the Taliban itself resurgent and, in some sections of the country, in control.
iCasualties.org, which tracks military deaths, reported 111 U.S. and 115 coalition soldiers have been killed this year.
Six years ago, it was a different story. A U.S.-led coalition drove the Taliban from power and helped install pro-Western President Hamid Karzai. But Karzai's government, supported by 41,000 NATO troops, is struggling to maintain control of the countryside.
One recent suicide bomb attack killed 13 people by ramming a minibus last week. It happened on the last day of Defense Secretary Robert Gates's two-day visit to Afghanistan, where he met with Karzai, who asked for additional help.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's production of poppies, the main ingredient for opium, is at an all-time high. According to the United Nations, 93 percent of the world's opium is produced in Afghanistan.
U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, sat down to talk with us about the challenges on the ground when he visited Washington last week.
General McNeill, welcome.
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