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With coalition troops spread thin, Afghan police have been thrust into a central role in the fight against an increasingly violent Taliban insurgency in southern Afghanistan.

But in the district of Maiwand, a rural part of Kandahar province that includes the home village of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, two attempts to form a local police force loyal to the Kabul government have failed. The entire police force was fired in January after it was found to be involved in the flourishing local drug trade, and a replacement force sent from northern and eastern Afghanistan quit en masse this summer after going without pay for three months.

Another hastily-assembled group of police recruits is now in training at a U.S.-run facility in Herat. In the meantime, Maiwand is patrolled by a battalion of Afghan Civil Order Police, a national reserve force, and their American trainers.

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