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by DAVID AXE and JASON REICH
Analysts and policy makers call it “smart power” — a seamless blend of investment, good deeds and military force that is intended to win friends while targeting enemies in war. In 2007, the U.S. Defense Department officially embraced this philosophy. But on the ground in Afghanistan, U.S. forces are finding it difficult to be humanitarians and builders as well as soldiers.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division march into Kowt-e-Ashrow in Wardak Province, southwest of Kabul.
Wardak has seen bloody fighting in recent months as the Taliban expands its presence and U.S. reinforcements trickle in. Heavily armed American patrols are a common sight in local villages.
This day, Afghan and American soldiers have come bearing gifts.
School supplies for children, election materials for adults and tiny Afghan flags for everyone.
The aid is part of a two-year-old strategy for boosting the popularity of U.S.-led forces among everyday Afghans. It is an approach that the Pentagon and Army Command Sergent Major Andrew Spano of the 10th Mountain Division hope will turn the Afghan people against the Taliban.
(Video: Jason Reich)
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