TODAY | September 30, 2012
>>> and continuing on that thought, to a person, u.s. commanders i've spoken to over the past week are bullish on the prospects of turning this war over to afghan security forces . there's no question they are making visible progress on a lot of fronts but attacks like today remind us how delicate the process and u.s. policy are. setting out on the road, the physical and spiritual heart of the taliban is a journey often fraught with uncertainty. these soldiers jammed inside a striker combat vehicle know the taliban still fights hard for this land and regularly planned ieds along the way. you've lost some guys to ieds?
>> absolutely. we've had a number of guys wounded and a number of guys killed both mounted and dismounted.
>> lately, however, the americans don't make the journey alone. afghan troops and police man checkpoints along the way. lieutenant general james terry, the operational commander of the war, brought us here to see for ourselves the robust presence of their afghan partners.
>> you look at these afghan national security forces, here is what's very different, very different from two years ago, moving out and taking charge of this.
>> training the afghans to take over the war is practically the singular focus of the international coalition as of 2014 withdrawal date draws closer.
>> and as they become increasingly more capable, we'll skill up some of that advice and assist and then over time they have the lead completely. we're not kicking the crutches out from underneath them.
>> over here is the mosque where omar in 1994 established the taliban and now today u.s. and afghan troops patrolling this village with relative impunity. but there is an undeniable tension that now looms over joint operations like these. that's because of the insider attacks in which members of afghan security forces have turned their guns on their american and other coalition partners.
>> it does shake the confidence of the soldiers out there. a lot of this hard fighting that you've seen down here is shared hardship with the afghan national security forces.
>> worried about undoing the results of those shared hardships, the afghans are now taking steps to better vet their people. are you worried about trust between the u.s. and afghan forces being destroyed?
>> we trust them and they trust us . it is no different. but the act is an individual act and something that happened.
>> you're not fearful the taliban have infiltrated the afghan army ?
>> they have tried to. we filter 0 our people, also.
>> u.s. and afghan commanders agree they cannot afford to disrupt the pace of joint operations , the ability to stand together on the spiritual doorstep of a taliban makes a powerful military and psychological statement for both armies. and for sergeant chad sparks who chose to re-enlist at this very spot, a reminder of why he and his fellow american soldiers are still in the fight.
>> this ought to be a great place to enlist and show that i had a lot of honor for why we're here be a what we're doing here.