News: Afghan contractors build toward the future of Marjah
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler Reiriz
MARJAH, Afghanistan - Team 2, Civil Affairs Detachment 11.2, 11th Marine Regiment, is responsible for many projects throughout the city of Marjah. The team contracts construction projects to local Afghan companies to help improve the economy and quality of life in Marjah.
Capt. Ian J. Duncan, the team leader, and his Marines took a tour of projects currently underway in the city March 17.
The team oversees a variety of projects in Marjah including patrol bases, roads, and the most recent project nearing completion, a school.
The school is a particularly important part of the civil affairs mission in Marjah. Duncan said attendance in schools has skyrocketed since Afghan students began moving from temporary tent facilities to permanent structures.
“It’s important to build a school in a place like Marjah,” he said. “The children are the future.”
Between 100 and 150 students will be able to attend classes, which will be divided into different age groups in the school.
Projects like the school are usually contracted to Afghan businesses with ties to the local area. Duncan said it’s important to have Afghan companies take the contracts and do the bulk of the work.
“They have a vested interest in the project,” he said. “They have motivation to do a good job and really give back to the community and hire local workers.”
Parsons said he is optimistic about the future construction efforts in Marjah.
“We have probably 20 or 30 contractors here who own their own companies,” he said. “They are showing great drive and determination toward bettering themselves and Marjah as a whole.”
Local contractors are also working on projects to have a more direct effect on the infrastructure of Afghanistan. A recently completed fruit and vegetable processing facility allows Afghan citizens to have their crops frozen or canned, in order to let them expand their markets.
Another project under construction is a district agricultural center.
“The goal there is to teach better farming practices to the local farmers,” said Duncan. “It also allows younger people to come in and get a structured education on farming rather than learning it all as on-the-job training in the fields.”
With several projects nearing completion, Duncan said he is optimistic about the future of Marjah.
Duncan said the projects also act as a stepping stone to prepare the Afghan companies to reach out to other organizations to work on bigger and better projects in the future.
“Right now it’s progressing very well,” Duncan said. “The Afghan citizens are ready for that transition.”
Editor's Note: Team 2, Civil Affairs Detachment 11.2, 11th Marine Regiment are currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, which is a part of Task Force Leatherneck. First Marine Division (Forward) heads Task Force Leatherneck, 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.