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Ground Realities in Afghanistan24:18
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Lt. Col. William McCollough, Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion 5th Marines, talks with local elders during a planned meeting, in Nawa district, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Oct. 6. (AP)
Lt. Col. William McCollough, Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion 5th Marines, talks with local elders during a planned meeting, in Nawa district, Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, Oct. 6. (AP)

Decision time is looming on U.S. troops and Afghanistan. Again this week, the White House war council meets in the Situation Room. On the table, a Pentagon request for 40,000 — maybe 60,000 or 80,000 – more troops in the field.
This is a watershed decision. Huge. Yet much of the public debate seems far from realities on the ground: the bomb-scarred streets and mountain passes and distant outposts up against the Taliban.
This hour, On Point: We’ll go to correspondents reporting from the heart of the conflict, for ground truth, on-the-ground reality, in Afghanistan.
You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.Guests:

Joining us from Kabul, Afghanistan, is Laura King, foreign correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. She reported recently on an attack on U.S. bases near the Pakistani border that left eight Americans dead.

Joining us from Essex, Connecticut, is Pam Constable, foreign correspondent for The Washington Post. She has been covering India, Pakistan and Afghanistan since 1998. She is now based in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and reported recently on Afghan attitudes toward the U.S. troop presence.

And from New York, we're joined by Martin Smith, documentary filmmaker and correspondent for the PBS series Frontline. Winner of four Emmys and three George Polk Awards, his many Frontline documentaries include "Return of the Taliban" (2006), "In Search of Al Qaeda" (2002), and "Hunting bin Laden" (1999/2001). His new documentary, "Obama's War," based on his on-the-ground reporting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, premieres tonight on PBS.

This program aired on October 13, 2009.

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