The village of Sar Hawza has become a flashpoint in the struggle by U.S. forces and their Afghan allies to assert control over traditional Taliban strongholds. Located in Paktika Province, a remote southeastern province along the border with Pakistan and the western edge of the Suleiman Mountains, the area is home to Route Jeep, a major supply trail traditionally used by the Taliban to transport goods from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Controlling this crucial supply route would constitute an important victory for the U.S. military base in Sar Hawza, but as the soldiers prepare to exit, insurgent forces are becoming bolder in the region.
The stretch of road between the towns of Sar Hawza and Orgun in Afghanistan, two towns long seen as Taliban strongholds, is now monitored from the U.S. military base in Sar Hawza by Alpha Company 2-28, Taskforce 3-66, 172nd Infantry, but the U.S forces have limited influence in the district and wider region outside the village. In fact, there are several communities along the route whichs Afghan soldiers, who occupy a base near the Americans, simply refuse to enter. Here, we look at the Afghan forces and their lonely struggle to hold onto the road.
Above, Pashtun locals sit along Route Jeep at sunset.