The Afghan man with a grizzled beard puts his life at risk every time he chats with U.S. Lt. Col. William Chlebowski.

As an informant for the U.S.-led coalition, the middle-aged man — whose name wasn’t disclosed for security reasons — talks to insurgents one day and snitches on them the next. He’s part of a network of Afghans across the country who tip coalition forces to the location of roadside bombs and weapons caches and share information about what militants are doing and planning.

It’s a dangerous liaison for both sides.

Coalition forces worry about the accuracy of the tips and fear being set up.

Informants worry they’ll be outed and assassinated by the Taliban.

Chlebowski, commander of the 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, is still a little skeptical of the informant he has met dozens of times in the seven months he’s been stationed at Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar province, south of Kabul. His military intelligence officer thinks the informant should be arrested for his ties to militants, but Chlebowski has decided to take his chances with the Afghan spy.

Source: Deb Riechmann for The Associated Press.

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