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    Marines near completion of successful deployment in Marjah district



    Story by Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde  

    II Marine Expeditionary Force   

    PATROL BASE BEATLEY, Helmand province, Afghanistan – The Marines of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, are nearing the end of their deployment in Marjah district, Helmand province, where they have worked diligently with their Afghan counterparts to continue to advance the once-troubled Marjah toward a future of stability and prosperity.

    The Marines still conduct regular security patrols to maintain their presence in the surrounding area, but have focused primarily on mentoring Afghan National Security Force and Afghan National Police personnel during the deployment, supporting the Afghan forces as they gain independence to take on security responsibility in the future.

    “(Third Platoon’s mission) involves partnering with ANSF forces; it involves building them up; it involves creating a secure environment for commerce and government to thrive,” said Vancouver, Wash., native 1st Lt. Jordan Harris, the commanding officer of 3rd Platoon.

    The Marines have worked to show their Afghan counterparts the importance of reaching out to the area’s residents and of providing the people a better option to the insurgency if they expect local residents to support the Afghan government.

    “Out on patrols, just having a decent interaction with the local populace makes all the difference because insurgents, they’re not out there shaking hands and kissing babies,” said Harris, 24. “The insurgents don’t really have any goal other than chaos and destruction, so it’s easy to talk with people and say, ‘We’re trying to get this clinic moving, we’re trying to get this school started, trying to improve this road. What has the insurgency done for you guys?’”

    Charlie Company is currently attached to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, operating in Badula Qulp, Marjah district, as the rest of 1/6 operates in the Upper Sangin Valley in northern Helmand province. Both battalions participated in the historic Operation Moshtarak in 2010 when coalition forces first pushed into Marjah district, and many of Charlie Company’s Marines are in the area for a second time. Many of those who participated in Operation Moshtarak said they are pleased with their new mission and the development of the district.

    “Things are a lot different,” said Des Plaines, Ill., native Cpl. Jeffery Rice, a squad leader with 3rd Platoon. “Last deployment there were a lot of firefights, but this deployment we’ve been working hard to reach out to the people and try to get them to come to our side.”

    Although Marjah district is much safer than it was two years ago, that doesn’t mean the Marines have had an easy ride or haven’t experienced danger during this deployment, especially during the summer.

    Third Platoon, its mobile section in particular, was tasked with overseeing security of the construction of Route Alligator, a road of tactical importance in the platoon’s area of operations, and the Marines worked hard to ensure the project got completed.

    “We (were) tasked with opening up and assisting with the completion of the construction of Route Alligator,” said Harris, a 2009 graduate of the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in history. “That was hard fought – we found like 16 IEDs on that little stretch of road.”

    Third Platoon’s Marines have made significant contributions to improving infrastructure and developing ANSF and ANP personnel in Marjah district, and the situation in the area is better now than when they first arrived earlier this year because of their sacrifice.

    “Citizens of our country should understand there are good Americans out here, working hard,” said Harris. “I’m sure (the Marines) will look back at this and think, ‘I’m glad I was a part of that,’ because we’re doing good things here.”

    Editor’s note: Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently attached to 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, presently 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: 12.15.2011
    Date Posted: 12.15.2011 01:24
    Story ID: 81408

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