Afghanistan diary - day 3

17/06/10

Newsbeat's Sima Kotecha has returned to Afghanistan six months after her last visit there. In the third of her diary entries she visits the town of Garmsir, Helmand Province, which is patrolled by US troops at Forward Operating Base Delhi.

US marine in Garmsir
Image caption Garmsir, in Helmand Province, is being dubbed a success story

An Afghan man zooms past the marines on his moped. He waves and smiles.

The market is busy in Garmsir. Hundreds of stalls line the narrow stoned streets.

Some are selling meat and bread, others display fabrics and jewellery.

Lots of young boys are running around laughing. I ask one of them his name. He giggles, pulls my jacket, and skips off to be with his dad.

He then looks back at me and blushes. His eyes are a sharp blue - contrasting with his jet black hair.

The marines told me Garmsir wasn't always like this. Around three years ago, the Taliban-controlled the area.

Local support

The sound of mortar and gun fire was nothing out of the ordinary. But today the district is being labelled a success story.

Local people in Garmsir
Image caption The biggest battle for troops is winning local support

The marines said they were able to push out the insurgents and help create a peaceful environment for the thousands of people who live nearby.

But it's not all good news. As we walked past the barbers, an elderly Afghan man told me he didn't like the Americans because they hadn't done as much as they had promised.

His face became red with anger and he threw his arms in the air with passion. Eventually he stormed off into his shop and slammed the door shut.

If the war was about strength, the Americans would have won ages ago but it's more to do with winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.

That's a tough task because many here are alienated by the western culture - I even got yelled at for not wearing a burkha.

It seems some would rather side with the Taliban because it's what they're familiar with.

It left me wondering how long it would take before the rest of southern Afghanistan would become like Garmsir.

Maybe this is a rarity because the British and Americans haven't been as successful elsewhere. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Read about life on a Forward Operating Base