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Winning hearts and minds -- with guns

It's a war for "hearts and minds" of the Afghan people and the strategy is COIN, or counterinsurgency. The idea is that if you protect the population from Taliban threats, and if you bring them schools, health clinics, clean water and other services, they'll turn away from the insurgents.

That sounds a lot simpler in the halls of the Pentagon than it does in the gritty mudbrick villages of southern Afghanistan, which is the focus of the U.S.-led effort to turn back the Taliban.


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An example:
Recently, a platoon from the 101st Airborne Division was ordered to move into the village of Samir Kalacheh in the volatile Arghandab Valley near Kandahar to set up a patrol base for 48 hours, and convince the people they were there to protect them and give them a better life.

Photographer Rodrigo Abd and I followed the soldiers on their operation to the village. Watch the video above to see how the day unfolded in unexpected ways, showing the complexity of waging a counterinsurgency war.

Editor’s note: This video contains graphic images, including video of a U.S. soldier taking an identification picture of a dead Afghan man.