Marines Invest in Local Afghan Projects - C. J. Chivers, New York Times.
... Following the emphasis on a more assertive counterinsurgency approach mandated last year by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of American forces in Afghanistan, here on some of the country's most dangerous ground, infantry units are using this winter to try a soft touch.
In the province's lower Nawa District, many conventional missions for now are a low priority. Airstrikes and high-explosive artillery fire are in disfavor. Even mortar fire is rare. Instead, in places where it is able, the infantry is sending patrols to enter into development contracts with local men. The ambition is to use local labor to build bridges over canals, shore up irrigation systems, repair water gates or small dams and, in the most determined contest of influence against the Taliban, renovate mosques.
The effort rests on a simple premise: to fight the Taliban, money may be more effective than guns. "We're trying to buy a little peace," said Capt. Paul D. Stubbs, commanding officer of Company W, First Battalion, Third Marines, which operates in this area...
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