One Afghan Outpost Guards 100 Miles of Taliban Country

Securing the Afghan Border: What Next?

The U.S. is now sending more than 20,000 troops to southern Afghanistan. Approximately half are Marines, who will deploy to Helmand, which also shares a border with Pakistan, and the western province of Farah. The other half are mostly Stryker brigade soldiers who will deploy to Kandahar and Zabul.

That will help, Cannata says, especially if they are able to fan out across enough districts to successfully protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, who roam freely near the border. If that happens, the local population will provide the U.S. with more intelligence and both American and Afghan soldiers will be better able to defend the porous border.

Publicly, the Pakistani government has challenged the U.S. surge, doubting whether it will work and voicing concerns that it could push militants from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

Often, Pakistani Taliban fighters are led by Afghan commanders.

But when challenged, Pakistani officials acknowledge that the Afghan militants who are fighting in Pakistan are in the tribal areas, not in Baluchistan. And they acknowledge that even since one of the largest battles of the war began in Helmand earlier this month, very few militants have crossed the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan.

"Insignificant numbers have crossed the border from Helmand," says the senior Pakistani military official.

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