By Dexter Filkins for The New York Times
And that is a lot of places.
For starters, there is the 550 miles of border with Pakistan, where the Taliban’s busiest infiltration routes lie.
“We’re not there,” said Brig. Gen. John W. Nicholson, the deputy commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan. “The borders are wide open.”
Then there is the 100-mile stretch of Helmand River running south from the town of Garmser, where the Taliban and their money crop, poppy, bloom in isolation.
“No one,” General Nicholson said, pointing to the area on the map.
Then there is Nimroz Province, all of it, which borders Iran. No troops there. And the Ghorak district northwest of Kandahar, which officers refer to as the “jet stream” for the Taliban fighters who flow through.