December 13th, 2009
05:25 PM ET

A trip to Helmand, Day 2

Editor's note: CNN correspondent Atia Abawi is returning to the Khan Neshin district in Helmand province, six months after a trip there at the time of a major U.S. Marine-led operation to secure, hold and eventually build in areas of Helmand province that had been under the hands of the Taliban for many years. (Read the Day 1)

December 13, 2009, 12 p.m. in Khan Neshin, Afghanistan
Disclaimer:  Writing while shivering. I need better long johns.

Today started off by meeting the 26-year-old district governor, Massoud Rassouli.  He remembered me and was excited to have the media here. Rassouli has been in Khan Neshin since the Marines took it back from the Taliban in July and is a part of the Baluchi tribe, the same ethnicity of around 65 percent of the residents in this district.

The shy young guy I remembered from July is now a confident and well-spoken man who is treated like a president as he walks through the small bazaar in town.  The villagers greet him with smiles; many excited to see that he came back from a trip away because they are afraid he will eventually decide not to return to their primitive district - like so many others. FULL POST

December 13th, 2009
10:36 AM ET

British PM bunks with troops in surprise Afghan visit

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spent the night among troops in Afghanistan, the first time he has stayed overnight in the war-torn nation. Brown flew in Saturday night and slept at military quarters at the Kandahar air base, a spokesman in his office said. Until now, Brown - like his predecessor, Tony Blair - would fly into the country for daylong visits and then fly out. On Sunday, Brown talked with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who flew to Kandahar. Brown also met with troops, was debriefed by army leaders, and inspected new military equipment. FULL POST

Filed under: Troops