December 7th, 2009
10:10 AM ET

Mixed security picture

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is traveling with the U.S. military all week in Afghanistan and reports that while development - building schools, medical clinics and businesses - is growing in some areas, in other areas where the Taliban is still in control, it continues to be a dangerous and fierce battle.

Starr talks with CNN Radio's Bill Caiaccio on what she's seen so far, how it differs from her past experience there and what the U.S. commanders think of the additional troops coming their way.

soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. nyfb

    i agree with number 48 we should pull our troops out and then nuke the whole dam place.

    December 8, 2009 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. jessica

    BLESS AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 8, 2009 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  3. ehsan

    USA TROOPS SHOULD GO OUT FROM aFGHANISTAN

    December 7, 2009 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ehsan

    I am from Afghanistan i am not keen about additional troops coming Afghanistan. i think thpe people of USA so not know the real face of their soliders. Every day inocent childern women and old men are killing by USA`s bombing. USA`s soilders search houses and they
    take women with them selves. USA has made a dengerous hail in Afghanisat in Bagram there poor people are tourcher by the name of talib even thoug they are not talib. I want to aware USA`s people that if USA doesn`t take there soliders away from Afghanistan one say the econimiy of USA will be distroy. USA will be like RUSS.

    December 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Calvin Gardinier

    I am new to reading these comments, #41 says all wars are based on deception. I beg to differ. 12-7-41 deception was on the part of the Japanese, 9-11 was the same. on the part of the Al Quida. Can we wiin in Afghanistan? The waging of war has many casulties on both sides. To win you have to do as Roosevelt and Churchill advocated. Unconditional surrender. A scortch earth policy, but that will not fly in this day in age. We want to win, we want to save our young men adn women, we don't want to kill the enemies young people, So you are at a stalement. I saw Germany when the cities were ftatten. The people lived in holes in the ground and begged for cigarettes and food. Today their cities are steel and glass buildings. When I went back, I did not know were I was. A scorched Afgahanistan will emerge a better ally, but you can't fight a 2000 year old mentallity with kid gloves. Fight to win .

    December 7, 2009 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. big marshall..a proud marine dad

    As the possibility that my son may deploy soon to join all of the other brave sons and daughters of many many other families ,something really bothers me.I have heard about some of the rules of engagement relating to people attacking our beloved men and women in afghanistan.they are required to call in and get permission to fire back when they are fired upon!!!!..REALLY ,OH MY LORD IN HEAVEN!! I have spoken with my son about this and my suggestion to him is if he is fired upon..hell with the rules of engagement ....he is to shoot to kill regardless of whom is firing upon him or his comrades.There is not one person there in afghanistan worth the loss of one more member of our forces in that crap-hole country and not one more of our brave soldiers, marines or any of our military forces should die for that hell on earth place...not one!!! I have wished from practically the beggining that our people could come home ...let them kill each other( in afghanistan) ,that is all that they have known for centuries and apparently thats what they are used to.If our people must stay.....Please give them the power to kick ass...and do whatever is needed to get the job done so they can come home to us safely.

    December 7, 2009 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joel - veteran

    All of you have forgotten that Sept.11 started in Afghanistan. The Taliban had allowed a haven for Al-Qaeda to train their people and attack the US. It's not about money, land or oil. It's about freedom and fighting for it.

    December 7, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. So Be It

    The life line of Taliban is the Saudi funding from the Wahabis. Wahabis are another name that one can put for Taliban. They beleive that their version of Islam is the RIGHT version and anyone even other Muslims who donot adhere to Wahabism will be killed/eradicated. Get rid of Wahabis and you will be able to get rid of Taliban/Al-Qaeda.
    US needs to provide an alternate to Karzai. Right Taliban provide that alternate and hence they have control over 60% + Afghanistan. Get rid of Karzai pretty please.

    December 7, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Thomas

    All warfare is based on deception.

    December 7, 2009 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Samantha Q

    Why dont you all ever report about the Army's Green Berets? Im sure they are doing some really crazy stuff over in Afghanistan.

    December 7, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jackson

    I agree with tree

    December 7, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jackson

    Bewildered and Freedom Fighter, there is resistance against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the media just does not report about but it is there and the people are FOR the US troops.

    December 7, 2009 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David Caldwell

    Afghanistan is a very different place than Iraq, and any other region of the world for that matter. It is not so much about freedom as it is about choice. Afghani's, at least in the more remote regions are more worried about feeding themselves on a daily basis than the
    western idea of freedom. Freedom to them has for the most part meant freedom from central government. It is not the they support the Taliban or Al Qd'iada either. It is a remote desolate place and it will take more efforts and humanitarian aid than bombs and guns to get them to buy in to the idea of a central government. For the most part they reject the ways of the extreme elements of the Taliban or AQ. Their government is a system of tribal customs that
    have been in place for many generations.

    To get an idea of the kind of ways we can help, read Three cups of Tea. Another good plan for our government can be found in a book called the Accidental Guerrilla. Both books give a great insight into the culture and the problems of the region.

    December 7, 2009 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cindy

    My mom is overseas right now. She is helping another number of families simply live. Never say this war is pointless. She is risking her life at this very moment for you and for people just like you. She is showing an incredible level of courage and trying her hardest to bring peace. Sure, whats happening in Afghanistan with the Taliban doent not physically affect HER, but my mom is beign the best most un-selfish person I have ever met. Yes, i will not see her over Christmas, but then I think of the hundreds of little kids hiding over Christmas by themselves there and I am so roud of my mom. She is doing the right thing. And in the long run, doing the right thing benifits you more than doing the best thing. Stop being selfish. Think, "What would Jesus do?" I'm going to miss my mom, but she is still here, in my heart.

    Cindy, age 11

    December 7, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TomIhc

    I personaly work with Guardsman. Who have fought and have served in both wars that are going on right now. Most of them Have come back some have not. When you have a culture where most of the population has barely a 5th grade reading level and that is in the citys! when are you going to understand that some cultures you can change and some you cannot. Most of the older generation was fighting the Soviets in 79 but with poor diet war and dease these people have no real concept of being free. Try living at 5000 feet for most of your life and see how heathy you are? Go ARMY

    December 7, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  16. SFC Michael

    Patrick –

    A 4:1 ratio of forces is wholly inadequate to defeat native insurgent fighters with any organization or leadership. Wendell Fertig had at most about 30,000 Philipino fighters and some US fighters who had eluded capture, and ultimately operated against a much greater proportion of Japanese troops in the Phillipines, so the US has been on the other side of insurgent warfare.

    Generally, 7 to 10 to 1 is a minumum force ratio for successful counterinsurgency operations.

    December 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  17. SFC Michael

    The mahority does not rise up against the Taleban because they lack the means to do so, and the Taleban are absolutely ruthless and well organized. We rose up against the Bristh and fought for our freedoim – against a uniformed enemy that generally followed the laws and customs of war.

    In Afghanistan, become a "leader" in a Taleban controlled area, and you will pay a brutal price. If they can't get you, they will kill your family without hesitation. Dictatorships have always been a small percentage of the population controlling communications and firepower, to control the populace though intimidation and fear. Spend time in a country under dictatorship or warlord control or armed anarchy like Somalia, and you"ll see why the ordinaty citizen will not rise.

    December 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Patrick

    Apparently, I say apparently because that information is very hard to find on the internet (it is like nobody actually knows, now that should creeps you out), the Talibans have a force of about 25000 members increasing and decreasing everyday. How, for Pete's sake, a force of over 100000 members ( coalition+US), well equiped and well organised, and who knows the terrain now after 8 years, cannot get the job done. It doesn't smell good. No.

    December 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Hameed.Sherzad

    We must free the people of Afghanistan from the taliban and Al-qida. Let the normal people live.this is not right they use the bombz and kill childeren in name of God.THis is not humanity this is not Islam this is just Out laws from the 10TH centry

    December 7, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Will

    Living close to big military fort here in Georgia we see troops and their familiies dealing with deployments of their love ones. Which put a huge burden on these people. I would like to see our soldiers come home soon. We ask too much of these men and women. They have a life to live also.

    December 7, 2009 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  21. imran

    The afghan war is illegal...illegal and only illegal !
    To avenge the innocent lives of over 3000 americans the Allied governments have taken 10000's lives of innocent afghans who knew nothing about the events and had nothing to do with them. The western governments are as bad as Al qaeda who know nothing but killing innocent people

    And when they have had enough blood on both sides and the money will be running out they will suddenly remember diplomacy !

    Disgusting...

    December 7, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Tree

    Just my 2c IMHO
    I think these are ordinary people just like we have here in America. Not everyone is capable of fighting for what is right. We stand back and yell and scream how things should be a certian way, but when it is time to raise a hand to give your life to commit to your words, the yelling gets a little quieter. They have brave peole in thier country who are willing to stand up for 'thier' people and country, but that does not always mean it is the whole mass who is willing to fight. Look at the percentage of americans that are actually in the military. The number is phenomally low for a country who is hell bent on staying free and vocal.
    These arent lazy, scared, un-motivated, un-educated or anything like that, type of people. They are people like us. Just because (just like us) not everyone has the heart to bleed for thier cause should not mean thier hand should be turned away when asking (or sometimes not even asking) for help.
    We are doing a civil action here by trying to provide a means for people to live how they want to live by removing/sedating/pacifying the bully.
    Sometimes you have to look past the cover of what it looks like to see a better picture of (what may be) a long term good end result.
    Personally, if you ask me for a hand and I can, swing it, you got it.

    December 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  23. bill blah

    u all are stupid people@#-%/////

    December 7, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Ryan

    bewildered

    I think the main problem is that they're afraid that if they stand up then we'll leave and they'll get slaughtered. They don't like the Taliban but they're scared and don't trust Americans. Which is why the first major step would be to provide security and show the people that we're committed to getting the job done so then as trust builds, more will stand up.

    Or at least that's how I've been looking at it.

    December 7, 2009 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Jamaal Spelling

    If fixing the problems in one's country were that easy, America wouldn't exist to begin with. The majority of the people in these regions aren't trained in counter terrorism, or in explosive ordnance disposal. While terrorism might be wrong, there is another form of evil that's much closer to home. The indifference of good men, if it's within your power to save a drowning person, and you refuse to, that makes you a bad person.

    December 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  26. un-bewildered

    To Bewildered,
    The Taliban in Afghanistan is very much like the bully in school. No one messes with them, for fear of their life (literally). The tribal culture in the societies there, perpetuate, rather than prohibit that condition. It doesn't take much force to be able to control an area that has only a couple of hundred members. This is also why we (the U.S. general population) continue to fail to understand the fight over there. We can win for a short period of time, but as soon as we leave an area, other forces take over and they dominate. The different regions there will never recognize a central government, and until we understand that, we will continue to pour our people and money down the drain. The only solution that includes any semblance of our type of freedoms involves getting rid of the bully (Taliban) completely, or ensuring they know (and our enforcement of this) how much repression we will watch before we step in and knock them out (again).

    December 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Eric Estrada

    the media is a joke. the reporters/journalists claiming to be imbedded with military units are over stepping their boundaries. remember Geraldo? thank the media for giving the enemy your sons/daughters/husbands/wifes/nephews/nieces/uncles/aunts/grandsons/granddaughters position away. love your country and fellow countrymen. we are the UNITED states of america, stop killing your fellow citizens.

    December 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  28. angrysoldier

    I agree with bewildered. Why when our economic struggle is in full swing are we wasting our wealth over in other countries? More importantly why are we wasting lives in other countries!? I myself deploy this month to Iraq and I remember when the war first started we were in search or weapons of mass destruction then wam bam we're after the Taliban and are still in there country and now we are wasting our time and money rebuilding what will be destroyed in 5 years. Just as it has been for centuries these countries are war torn and always will be, so why are we there? I don't know. All I know is war is and has always been for money, greed, and power just as it has always been old men talking and young men dieing.

    December 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  29. nyfb

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – edmund burk.

    December 7, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Emeka O (machoman)

    when will those insurgents learn from the NIger Delter pple of Nigeria, who surrendered their weapon and embraced peace in their region. war is casualty, say no to war. God bless Humanity.

    December 7, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  31. parrot

    American government should go back and check the human and material cost of funding this war.and see if its in there best intrest, if not they should profer a peaceful means of fighting terrorism other than that which makes life difficult for the commoners and marines. Bravo to all the fallen marines. All the same America is doing a great job in ensuring peace and unity in the global village.

    December 7, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  32. crd

    Nice bit of propaganda... Look at our brave soldiers! There's peace and development, where they defeated Taliban. And areas where the Taliban is still fighting? It's bad, so bad. Once for sure, you can't suppress what the nation wants and this video is just to keep the money flowing into the bloodshed.

    December 7, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  33. really

    Bewildered:

    If a small percentage of our country, say our government, decided to ignore our votes and do whatever they want... how would you stop them. They're a small percentage of our population, but they control almost all of the fighting power, all the factions of the armed forces, intelligence etc. Add that to the fact that if they were to take control, they would also control all of our natural resources and communication abilities. How are you going to fight if you can't organize, get weapons, or provide basic things such as water for yourself.

    I'm not trying to discount the value of the lives of our troops. Just that you are judging a situation with apparently no knowledge or understanding of the situation.

    December 7, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  34. greg

    The troop will stay in the country for another 10 years at least if you start seeing them coming home @ a 10,000 soldiers / year withdrawal rate in July, 2011. The date made me feel cheated. Good luck, president Obama.

    December 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Dave

    Bewildered, the answer is both yes and no. These people have known only one thing for thousands of years and that is the rule of warlords. The warlords make the decisions for the people, they do not allow them to learn or grow as a people. It is hard if not impossible to undo thousands of years of ideology. We in the US feel that we should make everyone bend to our will weather or not they want to or not and that is not right.

    Do I want to see the taliban go away?, yes I do. The key to winning the fight is education, let Pakistan send in teachers to teach them what islam is really about, not the warlords teaching them that it is about killing and making people do what they want to do.

    December 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Carlos Avila

    This will be the war that will address humanity to the final world-wide conflict. The US will no be able to pull out. And in the route, it will involve all countries. Just wait a couple more years, we will see. We have plagues, active volcanoes, climate changes, world-wide pollution, finalcial and un-employment crisis, and lots of other problems!!!....

    December 7, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Maven

    "Bewildered", the simple fact that Americans refuse to acknowledge is that NOBODY likes having their country occupied by a foreign power. We continue to operate as though we're the only people on the planet allowed to have national pride, or a sense of self-determination. Imagine if China invaded America. Would you care if they had "good intentions"? Of course you wouldn't. But such is the extent of our hypocrisy that we genuinely believe that other nations are going to cheer us for meddling in their affairs.

    December 7, 2009 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  38. John Holt

    HEYMEN Bewildered !!!!!!!!

    December 7, 2009 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Phil

    We can all argue till we are blue int he face about why we are there , or when we need to go, the simply fact is these people are not willing to handle these things on their own while we are there or when we are gone, i love that military commanders ON THE GROUND, who know what its going to take to get this over with asked for 80k troops and failbama gave them 30k . . there is no change

    December 7, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Anothertalker

    bewildered,

    The one with the gun has the power. Would you commit yourself to combating insurgents in your own country? Would you be willing to not only risk your life against them but also risk your life as possibly being seen as a terrorists yourself? It is easy for us to tell others to stand up but we have no idea how scary life is. I no I would not put my family in more danger than they already are in. What you say is much easier said than done as you sit on your butt.

    December 7, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  41. joey

    what do you win if u win in afghanistan? it seems like that place will never change. i say bring in the taliban and try to have a government witht hem included and see if any of the population votes for them.

    December 7, 2009 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Moore

    Imagine yourself in their shoes. For almost as long as there has been an Afghanistan, the people who inhabit it have ALWAYS been under some form of tyranny and oppression. That idea of "the majority standing up for their own freedom" more than likely doesn't exist. If you were always being bullied by men with guns, and have seen those bad men kill other people, would you want to stand up to them? The people of Afghanistan first have to have some sort of "security blanket" to make them feel empowered in their own country. Then after they get comfortable not being oppressed, then they will start to stand up for themselves. Having that protection is NECESSARY for success. (No matter which way you look at it!) It's always the naysayers who watch the news and point out all of the mistakes and shortcomings that happen to the people who make the important decisions. Evil will always prevail when good men stand idle and do nothing. Thank God for the country who has heroes and pity the ones who need them.

    December 7, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  43. george

    The Afghan people have never bowed to a foreign invader. And they will win again. It's pure propaganda to label everyone opposing the occupation Taleban when they are reacting as any patriot would do.

    December 7, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Vietnam Era Person

    Beware the Tar Baby. Afghanistan is another Vietnam. It was for the Russians. It is for us. But if we do not do what is NECESSARY, Al-Qaeda will be back again here at home. I actually feel sorry for the Afghans, that they have nothing to sell that the World wants but opium.

    December 7, 2009 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  45. romeal

    we cant win a war if our president backs down because public opinon we will never win a case they hit us hard 9/11 and dont forget that victory nothing less....god bless the u.s!!!!!

    December 7, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Freedom Fighter

    Agree with bewildered. If people don't want freedom and democracy enough to fight and die for it themselves, it will never work. The West simply does not understand these are a warring, factious, violent people that have lived this way for thousands of years, yet somehow we've got it so right that we're going to benevolently impose our democracy. Democracies simply don't work in the middle east–it's antithetical to their basic constructs; they want to be led with an iron fist, they don't want to lead themselves. We're convinced we can accomplish what the Soviets could not, and they were not even fighting a PC war, led by politicians, as we're doing.

    December 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Brad from Wildomar, CA

    People who live in developed nations have NO concept of the type of fear and oppression that a small group of thugs can bring to an entire nation. Visit Somalia sometime. you will begin to understand. It's not a question of cowardly behavior on the part of the majority. it's the fact that the masses have been beat down so often and so completely, that resistance on an organized and large scale is incomprehensible.

    December 7, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Grant

    Glad to hear that the media is starting to tell more of the stories. Not just the mistakes that are being made.

    December 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  49. bewildered

    I can not understand for the life of me why if as the excuse is given that the insurgents or what ever you want to call them are such a small percentage of the nation there, why doent the majority stand up for there own freedom?
    Do they want "our freedom" or are they so use to what they have had for thousands of years our blood and young are wasted on this country.Lets have real answers here, not just the standard muck about helping the helpless.
    I dont believe they want our freedom, nor care for any freedom. Stand up and fight for your children and grandchildren and repel the ideology of this faction.
    Lest we not forget.

    December 7, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  50. ngoc ly

    it's so nice reports. we lover that. thank you very much. i wish to see your reports to Afghanistan everyday.
    God bless.

    December 7, 2009 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |