As Washington looks for signs of progress, officials may look for the Gamshire region, where improvements are easy to measure, but still affected by the adaptable Taliban insurgency.
There was no Marine Corps here a year ago.
Today, more than 1,000 people are scattered in 42 camps, some of them as small as four Marines, throughout the extended combat area. Twenty-
Five miles long, with an estimated population of more than 100,000, the area stretches from north to south along the Helmand River from an area called Snake Head by the Marine Corps, a wide-ranging foliage area in other narrow valleys.
Camp Pendleton, California, 1st Marine Corps 3rd Battalion.
The second battalion, the Second Marine Corps, was replaced in April and took over full command in May.
In July 2009, the Marine Corps launched a first round of fire to reverse the situation in Helmand Province.
In the first offensive since President Obama ordered the first increase in troops, Khanja saw 400,000 Marines attacking Taliban strongholds in Kamsir and Nawa at the same time. Ltc.
Ben Watson, commander of battalion 3/1, was realistic about the challenges ahead, but he said, "I believe what we are doing, and I believe we are making steady progress.
A year ago, the Taliban took public control of the entire region.
Today they were almost completely pushed aside.
Hospitals, markets and schools have opened, roads have been repaired, and there are even solar street lights in the town of Gamsil. S. taxpayers.
In the booming market of Gamshire, shopkeepers and entrepreneurs believe-
The word "safety" came back and began to invest its money in renovating old stores and building new ones.
Perhaps the most promising sign of improvement in the town of Gamsil and its surrounding areas is the absence of poppy cultivation for opium production in the past season.
Farmers planted wheat for the first time in years. Col.
Randall Newman, the commander of the 7th Regiment of Helmand Province, which manages the vast territory, including Gamsil, said the change was partly due to the reopening of markets and a more normal economic rhythm, and because villagers there tacitly agreed with what Kabul's central government wanted, ending poppy cultivation.
The Afghan government has outlawed poppy cultivation, but the drug trade has become a way of life. Here, laws are rarely enforced and easily overlooked.
Newman says poppy production has fallen by 75% just north of Gamsil in Nava.
Newman also directed Malga, where the Marine Corps carried out a large-scale operation in February last year to expel the Taliban. "The real test is whether they will grow poppies next season," he said.
Then we will see what effect we have.
Poppies are grown in October and November.
For the Third Battalion and the First Marine Corps, progress has come at a heavy price.
Seven Marines have died since May 3/1.
Three others were injured by homemade bombs.
In Koshtay, the battle outpost at the center of the Gmcil district, the Marine Corps held a memorial service for the sergeant.
John Lankel is on Thursday.
He was killed on 7 June. The 23-year-
Old from the freeway, Indiana.
When they tried to clean up another base area, he led his team.
He was hit in the chest, just above his body armor, and died when he was transported by helicopter to a medical facility.
Other casualties included three Marines killed by homemade bombs in separate incidents, and three Marines drowned when their 30-ton armored truck, MRAP, accidentally fell into the canal.
Despite progress, in recent weeks the Taliban have relocated to the region in an attempt to dissuade residents from supporting the United States and the nascent local government.
Two village chiefs and a shopkeeper, both on the side of the Marine Corps, were attacked.
Some residents told the Marine Corps that they had received threatening phone calls and posted letters warning residents of the consequences of standing with U. S. and Afghan security forces in mosques and stayed at home.
As a result, the number of elderly Marines attending community meetings has decreased, as has the number of people using health services.
Moreover, the most devastating impact may be the decline in the number of tips from residents about Taliban activities.
"It's a chess game," LTC said.
Watson's biggest challenge is to win over a man who still doesn't believe Americans will stay until the core Taliban disappears.
"These people have been fighting for 30 years," Watson said.
"This is a culture of abandonment.
We'll turn it around, but it will take time.
"Local governments here have also suffered what seems to be setbacks.
Haji Abdul Young, a longtime governor, was recently dismissed and replaced by Mohammed Fahim for 22 years. -
The old man was energetic, but lacked political skills, managerial experience, and even Gamsell failed to make the hard work even more memorable.
Every cloud here seems to have a ray of light.
After the assassination of the village elder, Watson said the Afghan police chief loaded several pickups with police and drove to a naval base, telling the captain there that he would "arrest some Taliban".
Shortly afterwards, he returned with six people claiming to be Taliban.
Omar Young, the police chief, fell off the men and said he had not finished his task before he left. He seized two more boats and paralysed several boats he suspected were transporting rebels across the Helmand River.
To the Marine Corps's surprise, there are at least four people on their wanted list.