The AP, Friday, March 4:
The Marines have received reports of new insurgents coming into Sangin, and several new white Taliban flags have gone up in the district. The level of small-arms fire has also picked up.
“They are right now in their reconnaissance phase and are waiting for an opportunity to kick off their attacks,” said Morris, 40, the battalion commander from Oceanside, California…
But that support could weaken as more Taliban fighters move in. Afghans in one area who previously would chat with patrolling Marines now won’t even look at them.
“The biggest challenge is that the Taliban won’t quit,” said Capt. Chris Esrey, a 33-year-old company commander from Havelock, North Carolina. “Right now I think they are on their heels, but we know they are resting and refitting and we are not done fighting.”
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, today, Tuesday, March 7:
Gates was unequivocal in expressing his belief that they had been, telling a gathering of marines at the heavily fortified Sangin base: “Before you arrived here, the Taliban was dug in deep and, as the British before can attest, this district was the most dangerous not only in Afghanistan but maybe the whole world. In your five months here, you have killed, captured or driven out the Taliban that called this place home.” The marines had also achieved a “strategic breakthrough” by allowing three key areas to be linked up, he added, part of wider strategy of expanding the security “bubble”. …
The Americans claim around 400 confirmed Taliban dead, 150-200 wounded and 50-75 captured, though many analysts accuse the US of inflating figures.
It’s up to you what you really think of that bubble.