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    Afghans, Marines talk progress, plan Nawa’s future



    Story by Cpl. Jeff Drew 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force   

    NAWA DISTRICT, Helmand province, Afghanistan – Afghan elders, local residents from the towns of Gawragi and Negari, and Marines with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, met recently to discuss issues of security, education and health within the district.

    Lines of leather-bound shoes and sandals met ornately made carpets as the men shuffled under a canopy of vines and leaves, eager to sit and speak their minds. The district governor, Haji Abdul Manaf, opened the shura speaking of progress.

    “There is a big difference from 10 years ago ‘till now; it’s a lot better,” said Manaf. “A lot of progress has been made. Since the Marine forces have been in Nawa, the security has gotten better and better. We have seen progress in building schools and clinics and in security, and we are happy the progress has been made.”

    A solid foundation of security has opened the door for improvements all over the district. Nawa has an Afghan National Army kandak; 1st Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps; led by an experienced commander, Lt. Col. Gul Ahmad, to oversee security. Afghan Local Police patrolmen walk the streets regularly, providing a feeling of safety for Nawa’s residents.

    “Afghan Local Police training is going very well – they can get the job done, and they can easily identify an enemy in the area,” said Manaf. “They work well together with the other security forces, and they are dedicated to bring peace and prosperity to Nawa.”

    With security in place, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, aided by Coalition forces, has begun making improvements throughout the district. A new health clinic in Haynak, Nawa district, is underway, as well as the construction of a road from Nawa to the city of Lash Kar Gah, opening lines of commerce in the area.

    “Nawa is on the cusp of transition,” explained Mercer Island, Wash., native Lt. Col. Tyler Zagurski, the battalion commander for 1/9. “We expect soon to hear that Nawa will change to Afghanistan control and that is because of the progress that has been made in governance, security and development. The Afghan army is well trained and getting better every day. The ALP is getting training and is getting better every day. We will continue to work with civil affairs to complete the projects that are so important to Nawa, like schools and clinics. I agree with the officials, the experts and the wise men you’ve heard from, that this is the key to change and peace within Afghanistan.”

    As the Marines begin to take a step back, GIRoAis quickly filling the gap and increasing its capability to provide services and meet the needs of Afghan citizens. Similarly, villagers’ are learning to trust in their government officials and the support GIRoA can provide.
    “We are looking toward a bright future, and I’m sure we will get there with the help of the Coalition forces and the Marine forces,” said Manaf. “We are always looking for better security and more progress.”

    Editor’s note: First Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 in 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.



    Date Taken: 11.03.2011
    Date Posted: 11.03.2011 06:39
    Story ID: 79497

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