"En opération avec les paras," i.e. on operations with the French paratroopers of the 8e RPIMa, one gets very similar experiences to what others are finding out about on the ground in Afghanistan elsewhere. The Janvier 2009 issue of RAIDS includes a lengthy article on operations in Kapisa province, and many familiar themes come up.
I find something especially noteworthy after the French government decided not to offer any increased contribution at the Munich Security Conference, for now - this position could theoretically change still, by the time of the April NATO Summit, of course. Anyway, here's what the French paras found in the village of Jagdaley; in my raw translation of an excerpt from the article, leaving out some of what's in it (p.41.):
"The population "demands a lot" from the French. A generator, because there's not one running, but also the provision of medication to the clinic (financed by the Americans), the supplying of firewood, and of clothes for the children, because the winter tends to be harsh in this remote valley. French CIMIC units can't come here regularly. All CIMICs require escort, and for the zone of BATFRA, there are but two CIMIC teams, with a limited budget. 22,000 Afghans live in the valley.
'The leader of the village asked me if we would come back. And when we would,' recounts Frédéric, conscious of the stakes, which he will include in his report to 'Panther.' Inhabitants of the valley have already been deceived by earlier visits by Western teams, and noone can tell if the next time, when their hopes turn out to have been in vain, their disappointment doesn't push them into indifference, or worse, into the rebellion's ranks.
Up to this point, the 500 families of Jagdaley held out, and they have even come to the aid of the ANA (...) when they were attacked by insurgents, in September (2008 - P.M.). But come the winter, the terror of the insurgents, the need to survive, and one mistaken shot by the coalition may change everything, unbalance everything."
Yes - the old rule of clear, hold, build applies. For which one should always have the necessary resources, too, in an ideal world.