A show of strength
NOW ZAD, HELMAND PROVINCE - For several days past we have accompanied US marines as they fought their way through this town.
The exact sequence of events and story of our experiences will be the subject of an extended special report on Newsnight in the future.
However in outline what happened was that 1,000 US marines with British, Afghan, and Danish support, fought to clear insurgents from what was once one of this province's thriving district centres, but which has for the past three years been abandoned by its 20,000 plus inhabitants.
It was a very large set piece operation that played to all of the strengths that the US marines could bring - heliborne landings, air cover; massed drones for surveillance, tanks, and an extraordinary level of engineer support for troops who had to assault through an "IED belt" of hundreds of devices laid by the insurgents.
I wonder at the end of it all though if the local insurgents had not also shown what they were capable of.
The operation's commanders were hopeful of cutting off the insurgents' lines of withdrawal, pinning them in place, and fighting them.
Certainly the coalition troops succeeded in carrying out their complex tasks without loss on their own side.
They found a large number of IEDs and other weapons in caches uncovered during house to house clearances.
They also detained a number of individuals they had been looking for.
The insurgents however, did what any good guerrilla force will do when confronted with such a show of strength - they melted away.
In most places they were not willing to engage the marines on the terms of their own choosing.
Furthermore within a day of the operation starting, the Taliban were trying to get used to the re-drawn battle lines and start setting new IEDs.
On the second day of the operation, marines discovered two Afghans blown up by their own bomb as they tried to set it on one the lanes cleared the day before.
The terms of the fight in Now Zad have been changed dramatically by the events of the past week.
But the question of what exactly this large set piece operation achieved is one requires a longer term view.
It is time now for us to start the journey back home with all our material.
Certainly what we saw in Now Zad heralds a new phase of this campaign, as US forces start their new build up.
In many ways what we have seen may be the prototype for wider operations aimed at clearing Taliban strongholds.