The US troops patrolling the Arghandab River area in southern Afghanistan have one of the most arduous tasks of the war: winning the support of the locals in a region where the Taliban is gaining strength. Hal Bernton of McClatchy Newspapers checks in with the soldiers of Bravo Company and finds they have christened their valley—where 10 soldiers have been killed and 30 wounded since August—as "Vietnam without the Napalm."
"We have had enemy contact almost every day," said one lieutenant colonel. The Arghandab region is a Taliban staging area for attacks in Kandahar, and insurgents have riddled the area with road bombs and booby traps. They've also intimidated the villagers, vastly complicating the task of securing the area. The company arrived with 152 soldiers, already a dozen short, and has since been depleted by casualties. "I don't have enough troops for everything they want me to do here," said Bravo's commander.