According to Marine Gen. John Allen, the commander of the war, ten districts around Afghanistan account for fully half of the insurgent violence in the country. (Afghanistan has 405 districts.) According to a breakdown provided to Danger Room by the Pentagon, six of those districts — Sangin, Now Zad, Nad Ali, Kajaki, Musa Qalah, and Nahr-e Saraj — are in Helmand Province, where the Marines started fighting a costly and grueling battle with the Taliban in 2009. Three more of them — Maiwand, Panjwei and Zharay — are in Kandahar, the Taliban’s birthplace and the scene of similarly arduous Army fighting from 2010 to the present. (The final district, Pul-e Alam, is in the eastern Logar Province.)
Spokespeople for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), NATO’s military command in Afghanistan, did not immediately respond to inquiries seeking elaboration. But there are around 80,000 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan, and the remaining 10,000 surge troops are due to leave the country by the end of September. The persistence of the violence in the provinces they bled and died to pacify raises questions about the durability of what the U.S. will leave behind in Afghanistan.