Baraki Barak, Afghanistan (CNN) - One year ago, walking the streets of Baraki Barak would have been unthinkable. The Taliban ruled the town 30 miles south of Kabul, the market place was deserted and people stayed away. Today, it has a busy city center and the U.S. troops rely heavily on Afghan forces to keep it safe.
"This was one of the areas that was considered a sanctuary of the Taliban and the enemy. We fought with them to clear the area, secure the people, protect the population," says U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti.
The troops are heavily focused on working with Afghan forces to improve security in places like Baraki Barak. For example, Afghans control the town's checkpoints here. But it's not been easy. In Baraki Barak, the police chief started with just five men, and that number has grown to 50. Even with the additional help, attacks just outside the town continue.