News: ANA, ANP gain popular support in Garmsir
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik
GARMSIR DISTRICT, Afghanistan – The responsibility of local Afghan National Security Forces has grown in Garmsir throughout the last month, as Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, partner with them to control an area once held by a much larger force of Marines.
Kilo Co. arrived in Garmsir and relieved 3rd Bn., 3rd Marines, during mid-May, enjoying the successes of the battalion and the International Security Assistance Forces who served before them in the area.
The development of a strong local Afghan National Security Force has allowed for a smaller coalition presence.
“There were some interesting challenges associated with being a company that relieved a battalion,” said 1st Lt. Carter Harris, executive officer, Kilo Co., 3rd Bn., 8th Marines. “I can’t say enough about the battalions who were here before us, and the hard work they put in to set us up for success.”
Kilo Co. Marines regularly conduct partnered patrols through the district to help fine tune the ANSF skillset.
“(Partnered patrols) are important because we let the ANSF take control, and the population sees that we are working together,” said Lance Cpl. Dylan D. Lee, a team leader with 1st Platoon, Kilo Co., 3rd Bn., 8th Marines.
The Marines know that training their Afghan counterparts is the key to success and are glad to see the ANSF taking control of the area.
“The ANSF are motivated and willing to learn,” said Lee, 22, from Santa Barbara, Calif. “That makes our job much easier. Our mission is to get ANSF ready to assume responsibility. By what I can tell, it’s going good.”
Training the Afghans has led to the area becoming one of the most stable districts in Helmand province.
“The ANA have really progressed in their ability to plan and conduct larger scale operations,” said Harris, 25, from Greenwich, Conn. “Over the last couple years, slowly but surely, the ANA and ANP have been taking the lead, and taking more responsibility for their day-to-day security.”
With most of the security responsibility of Garmsir falling on Afghanistan’s government, the Marines are in more of a mentorship role to help the ANSF operate properly.
“They are good because they really care,” said Lee. “On our last partnered patrol, we saw ANSF patrols. They always had a presence. The (local nationals) feel secure when the ANA are out there.”
Coalition forces in the area have also been able to lower the threat of improvised explosive devices, because the community has put their faith in them and report on anything they find.
“The real IED success is going to come when you see local nationals and ANSF spot, identify and turn in IEDs,” said Harris. “The IEDs we’ve had over the last few weeks have been reported by tips from local nationals or found by the ANA themselves.”