CAMP PENDLETON, CA, UNITED STATES
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The three-day course taught these Afghanistan-bound Marines how to communicate with local Afghans facing security issues caused by enemy insurgents. Once deployed, troops will assist local security forces in order to rid the country of Taliban influence.
“We want them to focus on specific needs that are related to the cause of instability in the area, as opposed to just asking people what they need, which could be an endless list of things that won’t help stabilize anything,” said Marina Kielpinski, a TCAPF instructor from Norfolk, Va.
The first two days consisted of classroom instruction. Marines were taught how to conduct meetings with village elders who hold great influence in the community, along with local customs and the proper questions to ask during a conversation.
“This is the same thing we’re going to do once we deploy,” said Sgt. William Rodriguez, a civil affairs specialist with 3rd CAG and Sun Valley, Calif., native. “Doing this training is a great way to prepare.”
A final exercise culminated the event using role players acting the part of local Afghans asking for help in their native language, which caused the Marines to use an interpreter for communication.
“Working with an interpreter took a little getting used to,” said Cpl. Brad Douboin, a civil affairs specialist with 3rd CAG and Crosby, Texas, native. “You have to make sure the [interpreter] understands what you’re trying to say and give him time to translate it.”
After each scenario, TCAPF instructors evaluated Marines on their performance.
“This was the first time I’ve done training like this and it helped me out a lot,” said Cpl. Lee Carlock, a radio operator with 11th Marines and Vista, Calif., native. “Learning how to get to the point with your questions while also building a relationship with the person your talking to took a lot of practice.”
Unlike marksmanship training and assault courses, this exercise put its participants in a position of negotiating rather than fighting.
“This training is very different than what we normally do,” Rodriguez said. “Instead of kicking in doors we are shaking people’s hands and getting to know them.”
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