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    Regimental Combat Team 3 Marines implement methodology to understand local problems

    CAMP DWYER, AFGHANISTAN

    08.18.2009

    Story by Sgt. Scott Whittington 

    Regimental Combat Team 3

    CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan — There's a new weapon in the arsenal of Marines and it's considered a key to winning a war against an insurgency, but it doesn't fire or explode.

    Marines from 4th Civil Affairs Group, a Marine Forces Reserve unit headquartered in Washington, D.C., and attached to Regimental Combat Team 3, use a method known as Tactical Conflict Assessment Planning and Framework to engage the local populace to get feedback on sources of instability, according to Lt. Col. Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CAG detachment commander, RCT-3.

    TCAPF is a standardized diagnostic tool, created by United States Agency for International Development and used since 2006 in multiple countries.

    "Our goal is to go out and see what the problems are in the eyes of the locals," said Petty Officer 2nd Class William L. Lowry, civil affairs specialist and corpsmen with the 4th CAG detachment, and Tampa, Fla., native. "We determine if we should bring the Afghan government in to foster a relationship."

    Due to the limited amount of local government assets, the Marines take part in assessing the locals' status, using TCAPF. But it doesn't take a CAG Marine to get the information. The method is designed to be uncomplicated so that any Marine of any rank can gather public concerns.

    "You have to have people skills," said Lance Cpl. Jasmin A. Gagnon, 23, civil affairs specialist. The Falls Church, Va., native added, "It would just be awkward to walk up and ask questions without establishing a rapport."

    "I'm very encouraged by the intelligence of the Marines and locals," said DeFrancisci, a Melbourne, Fla., native. "The fact that we're listening is key to building a relationship [with the Afghan people]."

    The method uses basic questions and any local citizen can be interviewed, not just key leaders. The questions were designed to get to the root causes of instability, not just the surface. The Marines then aggregate these answers locally, and work by, with and through the Afghan government to solve the problems.

    "One problem isn't unique from village to village," said Sgt. Scott M. Spaulding, civil affairs non-commissioned officer and Milford, Del., native. "TCAPF should be kept at a local level."

    For example, one community may have a lack of drinkable water. Another village two miles away may have a need for more security or access to medical services.

    "We can direct resources to address the most significant problems," said DeFrancisci. "Since the local populace is a center of gravity in a counterinsurgency operation, this tool helps us focus on that, which is the people."

    Every Marine outside the wire focuses on the threats of enemy contact and improvised explosive device strikes, but the CAG Marines deal with an additional issue. In interactions with the people, they have met a few challenges.

    "People in certain areas are still intimidated by the enemy," said DeFrancisci. "They aren't always willing to work with us. Establishing consistent presence over time, they'll realize we are the good guys."

    To win the insurgency, DeFrancisci said the deciding factor is the people. They will decide when this war is over, and he wants them to know, the Marines are here for them.

    "We do what we say, and we say what we do," stressed DeFrancisci. "We'll deliver on our promises."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.18.2009
    Date Posted: 09.01.2009 01:07
    Story ID: 38205
    Location: CAMP DWYER, AF 

    Web Views: 321
    Downloads: 268

    PUBLIC DOMAIN