Strykers Patrol Border in Taliban Heartland

Strykers patrol a rugged area the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined.

ByABC News
December 16, 2009, 5:55 PM

SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan Dec. 17, 2009— -- The back ramps drop open and two dozen American soldiers emerge from their Strykers for an impromptu stop in the desert.

While on patrol in the northern part of Kandahar province near the Pakistan border, they spot an unusual scene of four adult men and two young boys picnicking in the middle of nowhere.

"You guys said you're from Lowy Kariz?" one of the soldiers asks through an interpreter. "The reason why I'm asking is because we come up here daily and we've never seen any movement over here when we saw you guys we were a little suspicious of what was going on. So we came over to check it out."

The nearby village of Lowy Kariz has a strong Taliban influence and is a staging area for insurgents en route to the western part of Kandahar province where American forces have recently suffered high losses.

To an uninformed observer, the outing looks legitimate: A white blanket is spread across the sand and holds a gleaming silver tea pot and a small pile of candy wrappers.

Click here for complete coverage of the battle for Afghanistan

But there's something else. Just a few feet away are several yellow plastic containers known for carrying two things in this region: cooking oil and suicide bombs, depending upon the menu.

The young boys, sitting on the blanket next to the men, appear scared as the soldiers continue with questions. Nearby is a white Toyota.

Click here for a map of where the Strykers are on patrol

"Does your vehicle die all of the time?" one of them asks, noting a clump of red wires inside. "Tell him I have a Dodge Neon back in the States that dies all of the time. I always have to charge it, okay. But that wire can be used as crimpers on any type of battery source or power sources like bombs," the soldier said.

"Does he mind if I look in the back seat?"

The interpreter exchanges a few words with the picnicker.

"No, no, go ahead," the interpreter says.

The soldiers continue searching, but find nothing more. They return to their vehicles and head back on patrol.

The soldiers are called the Strykers – named for their armored Stryker vehicles. Officially they are the 8th Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment from Ft. Lewis, Wash., and they arrived here five months ago. They are the first American troops patrolling this border.