HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Marines from Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, along with soldiers from the 6th Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 205 Corps, Afghan National Army, conducted a census patrol in the vicinity of Mian Poshteh, Garmsir District, Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 19.
Marines conduct census patrols to learn the names of each village, and who the residents are along with other information to have a better understanding of the villages surrounding Combat Outpost Sharp.
The Marines started patrolling early in the morning, moving along streets and through fields, and stopped to talk to any males 18 years of age or older. The Marines would ask them for their name, father's name, and grandfather's name.
"I like talking to the people," said Lance Cpl. Bruce M. Roberts, a riflemen with Fox Company, 2/2. "I like interacting with them and not only learning from them, but they learn from me."
The Marines would also get the names of the village elders and mullahs.
"With their power, it's good to know those people," said Roberts.
With the patrol on a Friday, the day most people go to the market to buy goods, most compounds were empty, which makes it difficult to census any village.
"On a bazaar day, you're not going to get as many as you hope," said Roberts. "In the first village we actually got more names than we expected."
Marines would try to stop and talk to the locals on their way to the bazaar. They would get the information they needed and then would try to locate which compound the local lived in through the help of kids or by the directions of the owner. Some, who were not in the bazaar, would come out of their compounds and greet the Marines as they passed.
After collecting the information they needed, Marines would get the grid coordinates of each compound.
"If the intelligence guys give us a name we can check to see if we have them on a census," said Cpl. Matthew D. Clingan, a squad leader with Fox Company, 2/2. "If we did then we can know what building he lives in."
The interaction with the locals, along with the census allows the Marines to know who should be in each village and who shouldn't.
"You go into villages and you talk so we can go back there and we can know when someone is there that's not supposed to be," said Roberts. "It could be people the family knows, but it could be bad guys moving in."
According to Capt. Scott A. Cuomo, the commanding officer of Fox Company, 2/2, a large reason behind their success has been the relationships that they have built with the locals.
Marines will continue to build those relationships using tools such as census patrols to further the success they have had.
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This work, Marines conduct census patrols to better understand surrounding villages, by Sgt Dwight Henderson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.