Swarm of Black Hawks

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ISAF photo

Six UH-60L Black Hawks and two CH-47F Chinooks launch a daytime mission Jan. 18 from Multinational Base Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province.

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Uruzgan, like most of Afghanistan, is still owned by warlords, not Black Hawks.

LATimes, Jan 12 (excerpts)
America's go-to man in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province
The U.S. relies heavily on warlord turned Police Chief Matiullah Khan. He smiles wryly and dismisses the accusations of corruption and collusion that swirl around him.

Thousands of desperately poor Afghans in this remote province rely on Matiullah for charity and protection. And his presence here is equally important to the U.S. military, which views Oruzgan as a linchpin in southern Afghanistan. It relies on Matiullah to support a U.S. special forces team and to secure the crucial supply road from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt, the provincial capital.

Although he has been accused of corruption and drug-running — allegations he denies — Matiullah has made himself indispensable to U.S. interests. Like other Afghan strongmen supported or tolerated by American forces, he has the gunmen and the iron fist to hold off the Taliban, even at the cost of undermining the very government institutions the U.S. is trying to bolster.

Matiullah is literally at the center of the coalition military presence here. A base for U.S. Special Operations Task Force Southeast is just 200 yards from his sprawling compound, which is powered by an enormous generator in a province with no electricity service. An Australian special operations base lies across a muddy field.


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