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In early 2006, as the NATO International Security Assistance Force ramped up operations in southern Afghanistan, and clashes between coalition soldiers and insurgents intensified, it became increasingly clear that a Taliban resurgence was fully underway. But the British military, tasked with leading the charge in Afghanistan’s restive Helmand province, remained confident in its ability to bring the area under control through a counterinsurgency campaign focused less on taking the fight to the Taliban and more on building up Afghan forces and nurturing strategic relationships with locals in the enemy’s spiritual heartland.

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