I have two updates to the story I told recently about the children injured in a mortar attack.
First: At the time of the incident, another soldier in my platoon grabbed a man who was acting suspiciously directly after the attack, and handed him over to the Marines. As we were leaving the OP, the villagers brought a another man with his hands bound and eyes blindfolded, accusing him of being involved. It saddens me that children had to die to shock the villagers out of their fear of the insurgents, but at least they did something about it.
Second: We went back out on the same resupply run yesterday. There has been an amazing transformation in the area just in the week since we were there last. The road we take up to the OP that I said was such a bad route? It is now lined with checkpoints manned by militia fighters standing alongside Marines. The massive blast holes and craters in the road have been filled in, and both children and adults walked out where I have never seen people before. The children at the beginning of the road are still there, and still cheering for "Free stuff, Mister!", but now they have friends all along the rest of the road.