Unlike the broad US offensive this summer that saw some 800 Taliban fighters killed in the south, Operation Mountain Fury has seen less sustained fighting, though about 300 rebels have been killed, Lt. Col. John Paradis, a US military spokesman, said Thursday. The operation has 3,000 US and 4,000 Afghan troops operating in five eastern provinces.
This time around, the US Army is focused on the US $43 million being spent on 120 reconstruction projects, including government headquarters, clinics, roads and bridges.
The construction spree is key to US counterinsurgency strategy. Commanders say it is critical to extend the government's credibility, open up commerce and increase security, steps that could help persuade Afghans to shun Taliban fighters and put their faith in government.