Connect to share and comment

Continuous coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Afghan soldiers receive award, nervously

Afghan soldiers who did good for the US, fear retribution from the Taliban.

When two Afghan police officers operating a checkpoint in Maiwand discovered a huge weapons cache in a white Toyota Corolla last week, the American unit operating in the area wanted to respond with some positive reinforcement. The district police chief suggested medals or certificates during a meeting with the local American leadership.

But the military is prohibited from giving U.S. medals to foreign troops. So 10th Mountain Division improvised — a couple of washers, some graphics printed up and a piece of ribbon created the new "Shona ba Shona medal," meaning "shoulder to shoulder."

At a ceremony in front of the district governor in Hutal, the two officers nervously accepted their makeshift awards — they likely fear retribution from the Taliban for arresting three smugglers and confiscating a trunk full of land mines. Even in a relatively secure village like Hutal, the threat of assassination always looms large in Kandahar Province.