News: Civil Affairs patrols through Khanishin District, checks up on local projects
Story by Cpl. Ed Galo
COMBAT OUTPOST CASTLE, Afghanistan – Patrolling through the streets of the Khanishin District of Afghanistan with tape measures, papers and pens, the Marines of 3rd Civil Affairs Group checked up on various projects in the local area, July 19, 2012.
During the patrol, Marines talked with shop owners in the district’s bazaar and stopped at a school and health clinic that are both under construction.
“Our role here is just to make sure the projects are going smoothly and completed on time,” said Sgt. Kairo Ortez, civil affairs noncommissioned officer, 3rd Civil Affairs Group.
Ortez, from Los Angeles, says the projects should be done by the end of this year. Local Afghans provide labor for the projects, and the civil affairs team coordinates with local national and American contractors for supplies.
“The projects are supposed to stimulate the economy and give the locals some type of ownership,” Ortez said. “Hopefully this will make them take better care of them too.”
Civil affairs Marines determined these projects were necessary by handing out surveys and talking with locals.
On their most recent visit to the district, Marines talked to bazaar shop owners before making their way to the school and clinic being built.
“Education is one of the top priorities around here,” said Ortez, who is an infantryman by trade. “Because the better education they have, the better opportunities they will have, and it will be harder for them to fall under the influence of the Taliban.”
The current school is a small mud compound that is falling apart. The new school is a metal and cement structure being built in the current compound.
Ortez said that access to health care is another top priority that will help stabilize the area. The clinic under construction will be a basic health center most likely staffed with two doctors and a few midwives, he said. Future staffing will come through the country’s Ministry of Health.
The Marines and sailors patrolling through the district were met with waves, smiles and handshakes. Ortez says he thinks it’s because the locals know the Civil Affairs Group is there to help.
While on the patrol, Petty Officer 2nd Class Trevor King, builder, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11, periodically took measurements of the compacted dirt road dirt under construction is within standards. He oversees its construction, which is done by locals. He is also the inspector for the school and ensures it’s being built properly.
Ortez says civil affair’s main focus right now is not to start new projects, but to finish up old ones and make sure they are done well.
“The purpose for us coming out and doing all the quality control is to make sure all the tax dollars that are being invested are being well invested,” he said.
According to Ortez, the projects are slated to be completed by the end of the year.
EDITOR’S NOTE: 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is a part of Regimental Combat Team 6. RCT-6 falls under 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.