Key to successful counterinsurgency operations but "easier said than done", observes John McHugh in his latest video report from Dewegal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan. John's spent a good part of the past 3 years in eastern Afghanistan, starting back in the fall of 2006 when the 10th Mountain Division was deployed to the area. (Since then, the 173rd spent a year there, followed by the current troops of the 26th Infantry, 1st ID.)
John's latest report is an excellent illustration of the difficulties and frustrations faced by both US forces and the local population. The root of the problem is that the villagers don't feel safe enough to take sides, which is essential to making real progress.
Related: Major fighting in Afghanistan's east and west at The Long War Journal