News: Marines build relationships, socialize with Afghan soldiers
Story by Lance Cpl. Tyler Reiriz
MARJAH, Afghanistan - Marines with the Embedded Training Team of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, took time off from their everyday routine to bond with their Afghan National Army counterparts here, March 23, 2012.
The embedded training team works with ANA units here to ensure they are self-sufficient and prepared to maintain security operations in Marjah as Marine forces transition out of the area.
The Marines oversee and advise the Afghan soldiers in day-to-day activities, and accompany them during operations in the field.
However, these Marines and ANA soldiers are not all business. To effectively bond, they take on other activities.
“It’s important to be around them when they’re not working,” said 2nd Lt. Parker Lacey, a platoon commander with Fox Company and the head of the embedded training team. “It helps build trust with the ANA. It’s important to them, so it’s important to us.”
Lacey met with leaders of 3rd Tolai, 3rd Kandak, 215th Corps, to plan patrolling operations for the next day. The men first sat down together to discuss business before sharing a meal.
After the meal, Marines and ANA soldiers came together to play a friendly game of soccer.
“It kind of brings out some playful rivalry,” Lacey said. “It’s good because they get to see us in less of a business state.”
After a few hours, the ANA won the last game by one point, but the game served a purpose beyond friendly competition between the forces.
Lacey said that the soccer games let the Marines and ANA soldiers see each other in a more candid environment and get to know each other on a more personal level.
“Some of the things we do are daily exercises and training with them,” said Lacey. “I make sure the ANA are being facilitated to be able to accomplish their missions and build report with the ANA leadership.”
The next morning, the soldiers and Marines got in their vehicles and conducted the patrol Lacey planned with his Afghan counterparts the day prior.
Marines and ANA soldiers disembarked their vehicles and conducted a foot patrol through a small section of Marjah. The ANA took the lead, going from compound to compound and talking to the Afghan locals.
The Marines worked closely with the ANA, supporting them by providing extra security while the soldiers searched the interiors of several compounds.
Thanks in part to the good working relationship established between the Marines and soldiers, the patrol progressed smoothly. By the end of the day the ANA had successfully scouted all of the compounds they had planned to visit.
Lacey said that operations like the patrol are an important part of preparing the Afghan forces to operate completely independent of International Security Assistance Forces.
“It’s important that we get them to a point where they can fight off any kind of group that is trying to take the sovereignty away from the Afghan government,” he said. “The Afghan forces are the way forward.”
Editor's Note: Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment is 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.