American Troops Target Taliban Stronghold

Commanders are confident that flooding this area with American soldiers will help change that. But they know there is a chicken and egg problem. The people of Zhari need to help the Americans in order to improve security here. But they seem unwilling to do that -- until they see an improvement in security.

On a recent day, McComie walked into a dusty, nearly vacant gas station to talk to the owner.

The man sat on one side of a small, cement structure. McComie sat just a foot away, trying to convince the man to use his cell phone to call the Americans with tips.

"You have a rifle, the Taliban have a rifle, but I don't have a rifle," says the gas station owner, who asked that he remain anonymous.

McComie said nobody would have to know he had called in a tip. The owner was unswayed. "We have spies in my room and you have spies on your base," he said.

After the conversation, an exasperated McComie walked out of the room and looked south of the highway, toward Sangisar, where Mullah Omar created the Taliban.

What was it like down there? Was there any security for the locals?

He sighed, and said, "None."

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