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Afghan-ISAF Forces Build Community Ties in Helmand Province

Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly VersionSend to a FriendSend to a FriendMarines with Brigade Headquarters Group, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, strengthen security aboard Camp Leatherneck and in the surrounding settlements every day, and in many different ways. With help from the Afghan national army and International Security Assistance Force partners, BHG Marines recently escorted an injured girl back to her home after her treatment by ISAF medical personnel. The unit was also a key participant in a meeting, or shura, between Afghans and coalition forces, Nov. 21. "We work on a daily basis with the U.K., Danish and Afghan armies," said 1st Lt. Benjamin S. Harris, the base defense commander with BHG. "We work with them very often." During the shura, Harris' Marines provided security while the Afghan national army's camp Shorabak Garrison commander, Col. Abdul Rauof, spoke to his countrymen. Mixed in with BHG's Marines were ANA soldiers, also keeping a watchful eye and ensuring safety for the meeting's participants. "The purpose of these shuras is to build the relationship between coalition forces and the local populace," Harris said. "More importantly, the ANA that's here ... are trying to build the relationship with the local populace." The more Afghans see their country's soldiers, the more confidence they will have in them, a fact not lost with BHG's Marines. The relationship between the ANA and the Marines has switched from teacher-student to that of a team. Two days before the shura, BHG Marines and ANA soldiers brought a 1-year-old girl home after treatment in the Role III hospital aboard Camp Bastion. The girl had suffered second-degree burns on her leg and abdomen when boiling tea was accidentally spilled on her at home. The Marines became aware of the injured child while conducting patrols around Camps Bastion and Leatherneck. During a follow-up patrol, the Marines determined the girl's injuries were not improving. She was taken to Camp Bastion's hospital for treatment, escorted by her grandfather. "The rule of thumb is, life, limb or eyesight," said Capt. Ed Burns, commanding officer of Company A, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, BHG, MEB-Afghanistan. "She is an infant. I'm doing the right thing." After her stay at the hospital, the girl was returned home. The drive to her settlement was led by ANA soldiers. Events like these are becoming more commonplace throughout Helmand province ā€“ coalition forces working alongside each other, establishing relationships with the local population and building trust, which all parties can appreciate. "We have a pretty good rapport with them," Harris said of the communities surrounding Camps Bastion and Leatherneck. "Our relationship is good."