Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Keith Burggraff, a fireteam leader with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, leaps over an irrigation canal while on a patrol in Marjah, Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 1, 2010. Marines from 3/6 and soldiers from the Afghan National Army have been providing security and winning the support of locals in Marjah, an area accustomed to Taliban oppression in recent years.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde

Marines provide security to Marjah's rural region

14 May 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jeremy Fasci

Marines with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, patrolled the streets and surrounding area of Haji Mashtu Khan May 2, to gain the trust of their Afghan neighbors.

“We need to get them to see that we are not here to change their way of life, but that we are here to help,” said 1st Lt. Ryan J. Engle, the platoon commander for 2nd platoon, Lima Co., 3/6.  “The best way to do that is sitting down and talking to people.”

Constant communication allows the Afghan people to build relationships with the Marines and ease the process.

The Taliban’s control over the region has been strong for so long that the people have only known the type government they represent; a government of murder and intimidation.  

“By us slowly pushing those forces out, people are realizing that things will get better and that things can get better with us being here,” said Engle, 25, from Reed City, Mich.

Security in the area provided by Marines is most important to the people because it helps bring schools, better roads and an overall better way of life to the region.

Patrolling in such an isolate region presents problems.  During these daily patrols, Marines encounter large fields of poppy, wheat and many other crops with irrigation ditches so wide that jumping over takes a great deal of effort.

Resupplying the patrol base can be difficult too due to the limited number of roads on which the vehicles can travel.

Training the Afghan soldiers at the patrol base is another priority for the Marines.  Afghan forces need to take over providing security for this region and continue what the Marines have accomplished so far to keep the Taliban from regaining control.

Marines patrol the area daily to help with the training of the Afghan soldiers.  This constant patrolling also shows the Afghan people that not only are the Marines going to finish what they started, but that the Afghan Army is ready and willing to fill those shoes when it’s time for the Marines to leave.

The language barrier continues to one of the greatest challenges in the region.  Nevertheless, the ability of the Afghan soldiers to pick up on small amounts of the English language has made the job of training them slightly easier.

Another goal is instilling the same values and patriotic pride in the Afghan soldiers that the Marines have.

“We are training the ANA to look out for their country the way we were taught to look out for ours,” said Lance Cpl. Josue D. Molina, a rifleman with Lima Co., 3/6.

While the most important thing is mission accomplishment, Marines still have to take care of each other.  They never forget how important it is to keep each other alive.

“It’s not all about helping them, it’s the guy next to me,” said Molina, 24, from McAllen, Texas.  “It’s trying to bring my buddies back home.  We all have the same job.  We all have to watch out for each other.”