FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, AFGHANISTAN
FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan – As local Afghans safely purchase and sell their goods in the Sangin bazaar, they do so knowing the Afghan National Police, and U.S. and British marines are nearby, providing security.
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and the 40 Commandos Group, British Royal Marines joined together to patrol the local bazaar, Sept. 14.
“We go on patrol twice a day,” said Sgt. Josh Michlitsch, a squad leader with the Police Mentoring Team, 3rd Bn., 7th Marines. “These patrols show the Afghan people that the coalition forces are here for their good.”
The PMT does more than just patrol; they help mentor the Afghan National Police.
“We have helped the Afghan police learn to maneuver safely as well as control their fire to help keep civilians safe,” said Michlitsch, a 25-year-old native of Brookings, Oregon.
Because of the turnover of Sangin to U.S. Marines, the British marines go on patrols to teach the Americans lessons already learned.
“We have learned a lot from the British here,” Michlitsch said. “They are very good with their counter improvised explosive device tactics.”
Michlitsch also added that both branches have a great respect for one another.
“All forces have their differences, but the British are very similar to us when on patrol,” Michlitsch said. “They are very professional, and like us, they know how to fight.”
The mission today was different than most days, because of the upcoming elections.
Michlitsch said the patrol today was a rehearsal for the elections.
“The Afghan National Army and Police were set up to show the people that it is safe to come out and vote,” Michlitsch added.
The Marines, who want the Afghans to be able to protect themselves, will be in reserve on election Day.
“We are putting the Afghan face on this election and we will be the quick reaction force if anything happens,” Michlitsch said.
Sangin has been an area of intense fighting for several months, but the Military Stability Support team says there have been areas of vast improvement in the last six months.
“We have created an area that is very secure because of the ANA, ANP, and coalition forces,” said Sgt. Mike Davis, a member of the MSST and Royal Air Force Regiment. “The people have moved into that area with their families.”
The result of that security is reflected in the amount of shops currently open in the bazaar.
“When we got here, there were about 400 shops and now there are approximately 1,400,” said Davis, a 38-year-old native of Wiltshire, England.
The MSST hopes the success of the bazaar will carry over into the elections.
“There were about 400 Afghans who voted last year,” Davis said. “And we are always hoping there will be more this year.”
Even after the elections, the Marines will continue to train their Afghan counterparts and provide security for the area.
“Things are safer now than even when we first got here,” Michlitsch said. ‘We have taught the ANP a lot and they continue to get better.”
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This work, Joint patrol keeps Sangin Bazaar secure, by Cpl Ned Johnson, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.