In April 2009 NATO forces in Afghanistan began a major operation to chase the Taliban out of the Uzbeen Valley.
NATO and the Afghan National Army built a base of operations and distributed humanitarian aid to villagers in the Uzbeen Valley.
Public meetings were organized to win hearts and minds.
Then in August 2009 a NATO convoy was ambushed by a large Taliban contingent, and 10 French soldiers were killed.
The ambush, the deadliest ground battle for foreign forces since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and the worst French military loss in 25 years, prompted a public outcry in France, with some calling for an immediate troop withdrawal.
The attack "took us by surprise," said Sebastien, a 37-year-old troop commander whose full name cannot be used for security reasons.
In September 2009, NATO forces began another major operation to chase the Taliban out of the Uzbeen Valley, and NATO patrols ran up and down the barren slopes.
NATO soldiers interacted with civilians to win hearts and minds.
Unearthly vehicles rolled along Uzbeen byways.
And in December, 2009, another NATO convoy was ambushed by another large Taliban contingent.
So the French Foreign Legion launched one of their biggest operations of the eight-year war — to open the road to a key village in northern Uzbeen and hold a meeting with local elders.
Within hours however the mission ran into trouble. Officers found out that 50 insurgents had gathered at Qaleh Eh Ye Kalan, the village where they had planned to arrive in triumph to consult the elders.
"We decided to organise the shura in another village," said a lieutenant colonel whose name cannot be revealed for security reasons.
But the people in that village were not told in time. And then the commanding officer took a wrong turn and was delayed even longer.
In the end, the shura was cancelled.
And so it goes, in the cyclical annals of World War III.