News: Afghan soldiers, Marines repair canals in Sangin
Story by Cpl. Ned Johnson
SANGIN, Afghanistan – As Marines with Company K continue to stabilize Sangin through regular patrols and frequent interaction with the public, a few Marines and Afghan soldiers lent a hand to help local villagers repair a few canals, July 30.
Marines of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, along with Afghan National Army soldiers and local Afghan villagers, coordinated a project to rebuild two canals in Sangin.
“There were approximately 30 local nationals, 30 Marines, and 20 ANA soldiers,” said Company K’s 1st Sgt. Michael Woods.
“We had our engineers on site, along with all their equipment,” Woods continued. “Coupled with the muscle of the Marines, ANA, and the local population, we were able to put shovels in the ground and make the water flow again.”
The canals were not the only things that were built during the day.
“They helped us build the bridges that get us into their neighborhoods,” said Woods, a 36-year-old native of Kansas City, Miss. “And they allowed us to build a road that cuts through their fields.”
The day-long community event impacted more than dirt and water.
“We wanted to show the locals that the coalition forces are here to do good,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Aaron Belcher, the senior line-corpsmen with Company K, 3rd Bn., 7th Marines. “We showed them that we will help them put in a hard day’s work.”
Marines dug wearing Kevlar helmets and flak jackets, but the locals, wearing no protective armor, had much more to risk.
“This was the locals’ way of showing the Taliban that they are willing to help us and that they are interested in change,” Woods said. “The fact that they had the courage to help Marines and ANA build a road that leads deep into enemy territory is historic.”
The ANA soldiers were able to help Marines communicate with the local villagers. They helped, not only by interpreting words between Marines and locals but by reinforcing their own messages that the Marines and ANA are here to improve Sangin and rid it of insurgency.
“The Afghan Army is able to speak the language of the people and tell them that there is a better future,” Woods said. “They are true patriots and are very optimistic about Marines and ANA making a lasting improvement in this area.”
The Afghan soldiers, however, are not the only ones who believe in this change.
“The Marines and sailors of Kilo Company do things for the right reasons,” Woods said. “They understand that their actions can affect the mission in Afghanistan.”
At the end of the day, the two canals were finished, bridges were built, and water flowed again. The locals seemed happy with the work and Marines knew they had accomplished something for the future.
“I was proud to be a part of something so inspiring,” Woods said.