BUR GARBO, Somalia - Kenyan troops marched into this decaying Somalian fishing village two months ago, but the al-Qaeda-linked militants they came to hunt are nowhere to be seen.

The Kenyan military says it is getting ready to push forward with its offensive against the al-Shabab insurgents, who are blamed for attacks on Kenyan soil that include tourist kidnappings.

For now, though, the soldiers spend their days among ramshackle huts and along the sandy shoreline without cover or body armor.

"The more they delay, the more time al-Shabab has to prepare. They have already been making strong propaganda to make people afraid," Somali government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman said. "The confidence of people that al-Shabab will be defeated is dying down."

The town of Bur Garbo is only 60 miles from Kismayo, the insurgency's main stronghold. Residents report that al-Shabab militants already are digging trenches and tunnels around another strategically located town.

But the militants in Bur Garbo have retreated to heavily wooded banks across a creek, where they occasionally exchange potshots across the river with the Kenyans.

"We haven't really seen much of the enemy," said the soldier in charge of the village, Maj. Solomon Wandege. "But we know they are there and we are on our guard."

Around him, mud and stick houses lean drunkenly over footpaths overgrown with weeds. On the beach, bleached fishing boats bake in the sun. Near the patch cleared as a helicopter landing zone, soldiers have thrown camouflage mesh over artillery guns. So far, there's been no one to shoot them at.

In January, Somalia's civil war will enter its 21st year. The Kenyans have Humvees, helicopters, and ration packs with sweet canned pineapple, Weetabix, and powdered milk for tea. But there are no Kenyan civilians along to reach out to Somalis. Nation-building, the Kenyans insist, is not in the cards.