News: 3/11 provides security to locals around Fiddlers Green
Story by Cpl. Daniel Flynn
FIRE BASE FIDDLERS GREEN, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — Walking through an empty field in the early morning, Aug. 13, the temperatures are already in the high 90's and every Marine is thankful for the relative cool.
The Marines conducting this patrol are not infantry; most of them are from Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3.
These Marines, who usually work behind a computer, have been performing security patrols around Fire Base Fiddlers Green since early July.
"These patrols are to pave the way for the units who will come in here after us and start conducting counterinsurgency operations in the area," said Sgt. Christopher Colt Remington, battalion color sergeant and squad leader with 3/11. "The patrols let the locals get used to coalition forces," added the Fort Worth, Texas., native.
This particular patrol went smoothly. The Marines were able to talk to some of the local villagers and attain an understanding of their concerns. These actions are crucial in a counterinsurgency struggle where the focus is on gaining the peoples' trust.
The patrol consisting of 11 Marines, one corpsman and one interpreter started at 6:30 a.m. and lasted about three hours. Pushing farther south than any previous patrol, the Marines were not sure exactly what they would experience.
"It was actually a lot more uneventful than I thought it would be," said Remington. He added that the reaction from the people varies by location.
"These patrols are a good thing," said Pfc. Alexander Gendreau, a mine sweeper with 3/11. The Eloy, Ariz., native added, "We are providing security for all the locals."
In addition to providing security, the Marines of 3/11 are also engaging in a civil affairs effort. Everywhere the patrols travel, they try to interact with the Afghan population. By understanding the needs of the people, the Marines increase their ability to help the community. Simple improvements to villages, such as establishing wells, can help show the locals that the Marines care about them and are committed to gaining the trust of their community.
The Marines also want Afghan citizens to feel safe enough to participate during the Aug. 20 elections. While the Marines may not be taking a direct role in providing security for the elections since Afghan national security forces will be primarily responsible, they will be doing everything they can to support the ANSF in their security effort.
Continuing the patrolling effort here will not only help the Marines develop relationship with the Afghan people, it has the ability to disrupt the insurgents' attempts to create instability, according to Remington.
For some of these Marines, this is the first time they have conducted foot patrols since this deployment began, while many have experience from previous deployments to Iraq. While the terrain may be different, the Marines of 3/11 have shifted into the patrolling effort as if they had been doing them here all along.