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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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April 5th, 2013
06:21 PM ET

Caught in an Afghanistan gun fight

By Anna Coren

Major General Tony Thomas is the most experienced special operations leader in the U.S. military. Thomas is the first NATO commander of all special forces in Afghanistan and has spent every year here since 9/11, with the exception of a 12-month deployment in Iraq.

We were with one of his units in eastern Afghanistan. When trying to capture a bomb maker, they were ambushed by the Taliban.

One region close to the Pakistan border is a hotbed for the insurgency, with U.S. forces coming under weekly attacks.

"We came into this thing saying it would probably take a generation to change the situation in Afghanistan, we have a 12-year-old right now, 12 years isn't a sufficient amount of time to say that's it," said Thomas.

But the U.S. is withdrawing, and it's now up to Afghanistan's 350,000 soldiers and police to lead the fight.

However, there are serious concerns as to whether there is the political will and military capability to keep this momentum going once international forces pull out at the end of 2014.

As we travel across Afghanistan, the two-star General tells me that U.S. Special Forces don't want to give up the hard-fought gains, and that the U.S. government is willing to leave some Special Forces in Afghanistan to help keep the Taliban in check.

But that decision is up to Afghanistan's President Karzai, who has been at odds with some of their tactics, such as night raids.

"There's no shortage of folks in our force who are keen on seeing this through, you know, to make sure all our blood and treasure that we spent here over a decade come through to fruition .. and is not just a passing chapter in the history of Afghanistan," said Thomas.

There are real fears without an overwhelming allied presence that this country could easily descend into civil war. And these U.S. Special Forces hope the sacrifice made hasn't been for nothing.

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