Helmand marines focus on job in hand not surge
CAMP LEATHERNECK, HELMAND - Ask the US troops here about the forthcoming announcement by President Barack Obama and you tend to get answers like, "oh that's way above my pay grade".
We're not talking about a private with a spanner tinkering under his Humvee - even colonels have given me much the same answer.
The president is expected to address the nation on Tuesday evening - an event that will fall in the early hours of Wednesday, Afghan time.
Most people are expecting a big increase in troop strength, with some talking about 34,000 to start, with an option on a further 10,000 in about one year.
As a large news organisation we are naturally interested in covering such a big escalation in the American military effort - a step that will brand Afghanistan, if it is not already labelled as such, "Obama's War".
In truth though, I cannot say that I have overheard anybody at this camp (which sits near Camp Bastion, the British base where I last blogged from) spontaneously discussing the troop uplift in their tent or chow hall.
As is often the case with an international "news event", we have had to go soliciting opinions on this.
Feelings of guilt
I expect there will be some discussion about the White House's announcement on Wednesday morning, but day to day here people just focus on the job they have got.
Combat operations go on beyond the wire, and the frequent arrival of casualty evacuation helicopters reminds us all of the grim reality that they are engaged in.
Inside the relative safety of this base, at the HQ of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, people beaver away, routinely working 18-hour days, seven days a week.
The amount of time they spend at their desks is a product of many things: American office culture; an expression of their commitment as marines; and a measure of soldierly guilt that they are not here in a fighting role, so must do everything they possibly can to work for their colleagues who are.
When you press them about the Obama announcement you do get answers. Some express a determination that the reinforcements should bring to an end the rural counter-insurgency here.
They want an answer of the kind that the Iraq troop surge of 2007 produced - a distinct change for the better that will lead to a long term reduction in US forces.
Need for local forces
Among US marine officers I have heard quite a bit of discussion about the need to get more Afghan troops into the field.
This country's limited ability to generate such forces is just one of the many differences between Afghanistan's situation and that of Iraq.
The slow time in which Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government can field its new forces is likely to be just one of the areas of tensions between it and the main Nato countries in coming weeks.
It may take many months for newly announced forces to start operating here, but the administration needs signs of progress quickly.
For that reason, US troops are trying to step up their pressure on the Taliban.
In the coming days we intend to get "outside the wire" to see that at first hand.