The New York Times currently has a reporter embedded with the American battalion that entered Ghazni in late fall of last year. The Americans are operating mostly in Andar and Dih Yah districts, in the Eastern part of the province.
It’s a story worth reading to learn more about what the situation in Ghazni is really like:
February 6, 2011
In Eastern Afghanistan, at War With the Taliban’s Shadowy Rule
By C. J. CHIVERS
The picture is of an underground government by local fighters, organized under the Taliban’s banner, who have established the rudiments of a civilian administration to complement their shadowy combat force. They run schools, collect taxes and adjudicate civil disputes in Islamic courts. And when they fight, their gunmen and bomb makers are aided by an intelligence and support network that includes villagers, who signal for them and provide them shelter, and tunnels in which to elude capture or find medical care.
As part of the Obama administration’s campaign to subdue a sprawling insurgency and create a durable Afghan government, the military sent thousands of soldiers last year into rural areas under the influence, if not outright control, of the Taliban. One of those task forces, the Third Battalion of the 187th Infantry Regiment, arrived in Miri in September to help establish a government presence in a place — though it is the official seat of the Ghazni Province’s Andar District — where government had been sporadic for a decade.
Almost five months later — through prisoner interrogations, informants’ reports, intercepted radio chatter, surveillance of fighters’ funerals, Taliban documents, nearly 200 gunfights, and captured photographs, equipment and bombs — the Americans have assembled an expanding portrait of how the latter-day Taliban functions here.
The analysis outlines two distinct elements of Taliban structure: — a quasi government and the military arm that empowers it.
On one level, the Taliban has firmly re-established its hold over civilian life in rural Ghazni. Even with an American battalion patrolling Andar and the neighboring Deh Yak District each day, the Taliban runs 28 known schools; circulates public statements by leaflets at night; adjudicates land, water-rights and property disputes through religious courts; levies taxes on residents; and punishes Afghans labeled as collaborators.
Read the rest at the NYTimes, here.
NYTimes slideshow on Americans in Ghazni, here.