Reporter's Notebook: Covering final months of U.S. troop withdrawal

Charlie D'Agata spent the last few weeks in Afghanistan as U.S. troops began withdrawing, and as Taliban violence surged. He spoke with General Scott Miller about the so-called "forever" war" that will soon end for American and NATO forces, but not for the Afghan people. Here's his reporter's notebook.

Video Transcript

- In Afghanistan, a bombing at a mosque near Kabul that killed at least 12 people Friday ended what was supposed to have been the second day of a three-day cease-fire between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Charlie D'Agata spent the last few weeks in Afghanistan as US troops began withdrawing, but Taliban violence surged.

He spoke with General Scott Miller about the so-called forever war that will soon come to an end for American and NATO forces, but not for the Afghan people. Here is his Reporter's Notebook.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: A cease-fire over the Muslim holiday of Eid allowed families to be families, children to be children without risking their lives. Not everyone was honoring it. The bombing of a mosque in Kabul during Friday prayers killed at least 12.

In all the years of covering this conflict, I've never known so many to be so worried with good reason. With the American pullout well underway at Bagram Air Base, Afghan forces must now stand alone. The commander of US forces, General Scott Miller, told us the Afghan military has to be ready.

SCOTT MILLER: They are going to have to use the capabilities that we've developed with them over years.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: At one of America's last remaining outposts, we witnessed the mammoth operation to extract two-decades worth of infrastructure, a mission led by Colonel Erin Miller. Toughest part of the job. There are many tough parts of the job?

ERIN MILLER: There's quite a few tough parts.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: A long list?

ERIN MILLER: Very long list, but it's easier when you're on a great team.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: Everything must go, from heavy equipment right down to printer cartridges. Where does it all go?

ERIN MILLER: So the majority of the equipment will go back home to the States. The other things, we're handing over to our partners.

CHARLIE D'AGATA: The Pentagon says the US drawdown is going to plan and should meet the timetable for a full pullout. But as they head for the exit, the Afghan military faces a persistent enemy. The Taliban are on the attack in multiple offensives across the country, all while terrorist attacks in the cities continue.

The suicide bombing on the girls school in Kabul was especially vicious, killing dozens of students. Visiting the hospital was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my career. If 14-year-old Maryam survives, she'll live with horrific injuries for the rest of her life. 13-year-old [? Zinab ?] escaped with her life and a shrapnel wound to her arm.

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CHARLIE D'AGATA: "I heard an explosion as if it came from the ground and the sky, and I started running," she told us. The Taliban is surging and terrorist attacks persist even with substantial US firepower brought to bear. What's to come of this country when American forces pull out for good?

For CBS This Morning Saturday, Charlie D'agata, Kabul.

- You think of the people there, the innocent people in war, but also all those who have served and those who gave their lives also in service.

- It's a stunningly beautiful country that has been caught in this cycle for decades now, a lot of it from outside influences. So we'll see if something can finally turn all of that around.

- That is the hope. First with Russia, now the United States. And certainly, it's all about making sure that they can sustain their own way of life.