Ten days ago, Maj. Kabir Hamidzai was sitting in a Humvee within Taliban firing range, relaying information between an army troop commander and an attack helicopter pilot overhead.

A column of Afghan soldiers was moving toward an insurgent position from one side of a hill; a squad of Special Operations forces was advancing from the other. Hamidzai’s role was to guide two chopper pilots from both directions, protecting the troops and then striking the insurgents.

Last week, back at this base in northeastern Afghanistan where he trains future combat air controllers, the officer described the recent operation in Baghlan province. “Both convoys came together, the pilots fired their rockets, and 50 of the enemy were killed,” he said with a satisfied nod.

It was a small victory in a war that is being fought on two fronts, sometimes pulling in two directions. One is the ongoing conflict between Taliban insurgents and Afghan forces, which have been abruptly weaned from 15 years of Western funding and combat support while facing a fierce, persistent enemy.