The Spine-Chilling Emptiness of Afghanistan’s Voting Booths

October 1st, 2010

On election day, a pack of bone-thin, restless dogs wandered into the main polling center in Sheikhabad, a town in Afghanistan’s Wardak Province. A pair of Afghan policemen tried to chase them away, but the determined bunch kept returning, looking for a shady redoubt from the morning sun. Eventually the police [...]

Ballot Stuffing Witnessed Amidst Troubled Afghan Vote

September 18th, 2010

Saydabad, Afghanistan–When campaign aide Qais showed up at a polling center in the troubled province of Wardak Saturday morning, he found that guards would not allow him to enter. When he tried to peer through the windows, he found that workers had erected huge cardboard sheets to block the view.
Inside, election workers were busy stuffing [...]

Tensions Rise Between Hizb-i-Islami and Taliban in Afghanistan

August 26th, 2010

By Matthew DuPee and Anand Gopal
In March 2010, clashes erupted between two of Afghanistan’s most important insurgent groups in northern Baghlan Province. A days-long battle between Hizb-i-Islami and the Taliban left nearly 60 militants and 20 civilians dead. Hostilities between the two sides flared again in Wardak Province in July, where ongoing clashes killed 28 [...]

New Counterinsurgency Strategy, Same Results

June 5th, 2010

Wardak province, a rustic region of verdant dales and twisting streams that borders Kabul, is home to one of the untold stories of the Afghan war: over the last nine months, U.S. forces have quietly decapitated the Taliban’s leadership in the area. Through dozens of nighttime raids, U.S. Special Operations Forces have succeeded in killing [...]

US Troops in Afghanistan Face Tough Battle: Making ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ Work

July 8th, 2009

In Wardak province, the counterinsurgency model has been difficult to implement, though US forces have already seen some success in the first phase of the effort.
Jaghatu, Afghanistan – Part 2 of a two-part series.
As the US sends more troops to Afghanistan to try to reverse the growing violence, they are relying on the “clear, [...]

In Afghanistan Surge, Soldiers Negotiate a Complex Web of Local Loyalties

July 7th, 2009

As forces of the 10th Mountain Division poured into Wardak Province to combat the Taliban, they’ve also had to battle a cool reception.
Tangi Valley, Afghanistan – Part one of a two-part series.
When the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division penetrated the insurgent-ridden Tangi Valley in the heart of Wardak Province, they braved rockets and [...]

Lessons from Iraq? US creates local militias to fight Taliban

April 13th, 2009

With echoes of the Anbar Awakening in Iraq, the US is arming, training and paying Afghans to set up village militias.
Maydan Shahr, Afghanistan – At first sight, Muhammad Nasim Gul and his men – in drab, olive-colored fatigues and baseball caps to match – look like Cuban [...]

Mini-surge to Test Out US Strategy in Afghanistan

February 18th, 2009

Some 3000 US troops recently deployed to insurgent-heavy provinces near Kabul
Maydan Shahr, Afghanistan – The 3,000 new American troops who arrived in recent weeks in Logar and Wardak provinces, both of which border Kabul, face a formidable challenge: establishing control in areas with little government presence and where insurgents operate freely.
In Band-e-chak, for example, a [...]

Some Afghans Live Under Taliban Rule–And Prefer It

October 15th, 2008

In provinces just south of Kabul, the insurgents have a shadow government that polices roads and runs courts.
Porak, Afghanistan – After a gang of thieves had continually terrorized an Afghan neighborhood near here months ago, locals decided they’d had enough. “We complained several times to the government and even showed them where the thieves [...]