SKY NEWS Pounding the 10 Dollar Taliban By Alex Crawford Helmand, Afghanistan Thursday September 06, 2007 British troops have been pounding Taliban positions in the Upper Gareshk Valley in southern Afghanistan in an attempt to hold the front line. Sky's Alex Crawford in HelmandA small outpost of hope is in the firing line but despite almost daily attacks the soldiers of Alpha X-Ray patrol base are holding out. A cardboard sign with "Welcome To The Frontline" greets you when you arrive at the camp. Underneath are the words "Caravan - 200 Metres". And this must be the closest camp to the Taliban fighting position. The troops of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment and 23 Pioneer Regiment, who are attached, have been holding out here for four months now, and it's survival of the fittest. This is where sleep is short and you can see the enemy almost daily. Days are spent patrolling and reassuring the villagers of Rahim Kalay, which used to be a Taliban stronghold until British troops took control in June. Three soldiers died in the battle to secure the area, and four months on their fellow soldiers are still fighting to keep the Taliban out. Even as we arrive at the camp, we are ushered quickly inside the barbed wire and beyond the armed soldiers. "We have reports there are Taliban moving out there," says Lt Aaron Browne, commander fire support group 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment. And so begins another typical day for Alpha X-Ray. They don't sleep much here. Sleep is short: a soldier on night watchSeveral smoke bombs are fired to try to flush the Taliban fighters out of the compound opposite the base, just a couple of hundred metres away and used regularly by the fighters to launch attacks against the British. The troops can actually see them in their long-range lenses. And as soon as one fighter dies, another replaces him. Lt Gregg McLeod, platoon commander 23 Pioneer Regiment, which is part of Royal Logistics Corps, described them as "like a conveyor belt" of fighters. "The dead are just replaced. The commanders don't care. They just keep sending the 10 dollar Taliban forward as cannon fodder." The closest camp to the Taliban positionAnd the Taliban keep on getting hammered but keep on coming back for more. At dark, Alpha X-Ray quickly spot a group of fighters moving towards them. First they fire smoke bombs to scare them, even flush them out. When that has no effect, they fire mortars, round after round. Then the rooftop is crowded with soldiers opening fire, using rapid-fire machine guns, even rifles. And then air support is called in. The back-up team at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Sandford co-ordinates US F-15s to fly over and then unleash a 500lb bomb on Taliban positions. The troops on the rooftops whoop with relief and joy. For them it's a job well done. The trouble is they may well be doing this all over again tomorrow.