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The differences are an underlying part of the debate over how many foreign troops will be members of an international security force to be deployed in Afghanistan, with [Donald Rumsfeld] calling for a detachment several times larger than [Mohammed Fahim] thinks is needed, though U.S. troops will play no direct role. With less than five days to go before the interim government takes power, that debate still hasn't been resolved.
The sensitivities, as well as the efforts to alleviate them, are everywhere in evidence at the base, which was secured by American and British soldiers but is owned by the Afghan government. The only airfield near Kabul capable of handling large planes, the base plays a critical role in the country right now, and U.S. and Afghan soldiers work side by side at times.
The ways some U.S. troops are interacting with Afghans also suggest the more serious consequences at risk. Soldiers who go into Kabul, for instance, often wear Afghan scarves and hats, known as pakol, in what they describe as an effort to appear nonthreatening. "Not to appear as another one of these occupying or invading forces that they're familiar with," said a major named Scott.