The U.S. effort in Afghanistan's Helmand province is pushing the Taliban into neighboring Kandahar, putting the city and its surrounding area under stress, the general who leads the U.S. intelligence efforts in Afghanistan says.
"Kandahar city is ... a city that is probably a city under duress right now," Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn tells Renee Montagne. "The surrounding districts around the city ... the Taliban feels pretty comfortable there right now."
Flynn says additional combat power is being brought into Kandahar city to tackle the Taliban.
"Once all those forces get on the ground, and we start to see exactly what kind of combat operations they get in, [we can see] whether or not we're into something deeper than we had originally assessed," Flynn says.
He says a clearer picture should emerge after the Aug. 20 Afghan presidential election.
Flynn says he has had to change the way he thinks about intelligence after coming to Afghanistan. He says the U.S. has studied the Taliban closely, but it has not understood the local population well.
"I think that we just haven't done the job that we need to by just focusing on the enemy," he says. "I think by focusing on the population, much more so than we have in the past, we'll have a better understanding of which direction we need to go in the future."
Flynn says that by reaching out to academics, cultural experts and social scientists, the military is seeing the battlefield in a much different light.
"We're trying to understand what are the ... factors that the people of Afghanistan are willing to sacrifice ... to achieve," he says. "And, I think, that right now it's different depending on where you go, but I don't think we have as good a grasp of that as we should."